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TT will probably be expected, and not unreason* 
ably, that some account should be given of the 
motives and circumstances which have called thia 
work into existence ; — and the Author readily availa 
himself of the privilege accorded by long custom to 
introduce here a few explanatory observations. 

This is the more necessary as some readers will 
recall to mind three works already existing, each 
entitled. History of the Royal Society ; and it might 
be considered that a fourth book on the subject was 
scarcely, if at all, required. But the most superficial 
examination of these HistarieSy will show how very 
deficient they are in information relating to the 
rise and progress of the Society. Bishop Sprat's 
work, published in 1667, manifestly cannot be re*^ 
garded as a history of the Society, seeing that the 
Institution had only just been organized when the 
book was written. It even £eu1s to give us a satis£Etc- 
tory account of the origin, or the early proceedings 
of the Society; the author having laboured much 
more diligently to defend the Fellows firom thQ 
attacks and criticism of Aristotelian philosophers; 
than with any other object: he tells us, indeed, 
VOL. I. b 


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that ''the objections and cavils of the detractors of 
so noble an Institution, did make it necessary for 
him to write of it, not in the way of a plain history, 
hut as an apology.'* 

The next ffi/tpry of the Society, is that by Dr. 
Birch, in four quarto volumes, published in 1756. 
Here again, the work fails to redeem the promise of 
its Title, for although occupying so large a space, it 
breaks off at the year 1687, and treats only of the 
scientific proceedings of the Society, with a repro- 
duction of many papers which were read at the 
Meetings, and printed in the Philosophical Transac- 

The thijrd publication, which was WTitten by Dr. 
Thomson, appeared in 1812; and this again, although 
styled History qf the Society, is, as the author states, 
"an attempt to elucidate the Philosophical Trans- 
actions:''* in fact, the entire volume is filled with 
rapid sketches of the progress of science, and an 
analysis of the papers in the Transactions. 

It is thud evident that no work, marking the 
Society's progress from a period antecedent to its 
incorporation until our own time, exists ; for it would 
be vain to seek in the above Histories for informa- 
tion respecting the endowments of the Society, or 
indeed any other fact connected with its civil history. 

The want of such a publication suggested itself 
very soon after my being appointed to the offices which 
I now hold, from the difficulty of replying to ques- 


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tioM relative to the early events and constitution of 
the Society, without first making a laborious search 
through the Archives. It consequently appeared to 
me, that a thorough acquaintance with the Society's 
civil history would increase my efficiency as Assistant- 
Secretary; and this could only be arrived at by a dili- 
gent examination of the voluminous records under 
my charge. 

The circumstances, however, which more imme- 
diately gave rise to this work, were briefly these: — 
Having received instructions, immediately after my 
appointment, to visit the Society's estate at Acton, 
respecting some legal difficulty of tenure, the details 
of which I was ignorant o( and had not leisure 
at the time to ascertain; it occurred to me, while 
riding down to the property, that some account 
of the Society, containing at least every fact of 
importance relating to it, would be useful to the 
Fellows, and might at the same time prove inter-- 
esting to a considerable portion of the scientific 
world. The idea thus conceived, soon assumed a 
more definite character, and but little time elapsed 
before it was acted on. But I felt it to be my duty, 
as it was my inclination, to consult Dr. Roget, Senior^ 
Secretary to the Society, on the subject; aud meet- 
ing with the warmest encouragement firom him, and 
other officers of the Society, I commenced the under- 
taking, which, it may be as well to state, has occupied 




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viii * PREFACE. 

the principal portion of my leisure hours for nearly 
four years. 

The examination of the Archives^ the Journal, 
Register, and Council-books, comprising some hun- 
dreds of volumes, with several thousand letters, was 
a formidable task ; but I soon found that the work 
could not be compiled from these documents alone. 
It was the custom, in the early days of the Society, 
for the Secretaries to have the custody of the books 
and papers, many of which, on their decease, were 
not returned to the Society by their executors, and 
have since been presented to the British Museum ; a 
locality, it may be observed, &r less appropriate for 
their preservation than the Royal Society's library, to 
which, indeed, they in justice belong. Thus several 
volumes of Hooke's papers are in the National Li- 
brary, besides letters and other documents written 
by Oldenburg, Wallis^ Wren, Sloane, &c. To these 
it became, of course, important to refer; and such use 
has been made of them as was necessary for the 
purposes of this work. The State-Paper Office, the 
Archives of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, and the 
Bodleian Library, which I also visited, have furnished 
me with valuable matter. 

From this statement it will be understood that my 
main object has been to render a fiuthful account of the 
rise, progress, and constitution of the Royal Society, 
and to record its most important proceedings. I 


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need scarcely observe that the work partakes more 
of a civil, than of a scientific character; and indeed it 
is my earnest wish that it should be regarded only as 
a contribution towards some future philosophical his^ 
toiy of the Society, which, proceeding firom an abler 
pen than mine, shall at once embrace the entire 

Scientific matters, it is true, are occasionally 
treated of in the present work, but only in an his^ 
torical light ; — ^for example, when the Dean and Chap-» 
ter of St. Paul's requested the Society to protect their 
Cathedral from lightning, the manner in which the 
protection was effected is recorded; but no attempt 
is made to enter into the argument, whether or not 
the means employed were based on the soundest 
philosophical principles : — this manifestly appertains 
to another branch of inquiry, and if carried out in 
cases of a similar nature, would require far more space 
than two volumes can afford. Thus, all the great 
scientific labours, which originated either in the So^ 
ciety as a body, or from its Fellows individually, will 
be found historically narrated and elucidated in every 
case, as far as possible, by original and authentic docu- 
ments from the Society's Archives. 

A sketch of the revival of literature and science 
in Italy, and the development of scientific institutions 
in that country was deemed a fitting introduction to 
that of the Royal Society; and especially as it might 
assist in forming a correct estimate of the labours 


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of the small band of truth-seeking philosophers, who 
founded an association which has acquired world-wide 
renown, and whose members hare probably done 
more than any other body of men to benefit the 
community by rendering science available for the 
practical purposes of life. 

A few words require to be said with respect to 
the biographies of some of the Presidents, which may 
not be thought so full as could be desired ; but having 
devoted much time in search of information respect- 
ing them, with generally very indifferent success, I 
could only arrive at the conclusion, that the subjects 
of my research were persons who had done little in 
practical science, and therefore did not enjoy an ex- 
tended reputation. Happily this remark applies to 
but two or three of the number; with the rest, 
the diiBculty consisted more in condensing than in 
collecting the materials at command. 

I am well aware that omissions, though not I trust 
of any great consequence, will be detected ; but with- 
out attempting apologies for the sake of conciliating 
the criticism of the reader, which is his privilege as it 
is his right, I must remind him, that it was con- 
sidered more judicious to bring these volumes into a 
compass of reasonable size, than to extend them to 
dimensions, which, in these days, could hardly be 
expected to meet with approval. 

It has been deemed advisable to close the history 
of the Society, with the election of the Duke of Sussex, 


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in 1830. But this year, considered with reference to 
a period of very nearly two centuries, may be said to 
belong to our own times; and the contents of the 
concluding Chapter, with the publication of the 
recently amended Statutes, will enable the reader 
to form a correct idea of the present state and con- 
stitution of the Society. 

Somerset House, 
June, 1848. 


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State of literatura and Sdenoe m Europe during the Twelfth and Thirteenth 
Genturiee— Prevalence of Ecclesiastical Authority^— Its baneful e£kci on 
li^ming — Labours of Barlaam, Petrarch, and Boccacdo— -Their seal 
for CSaasical literature— RestOTatum of Classical I^eaming in Italy^-- 
Discovery of Ancient Manuscripts— Patronage of learning by the Medici 
Family^— Philosophy not adyanced — Roger Bacon — Other English Philo- 
sophers—Leonardo da Vind — ^His great philosophical acquirements- 
Establishes an Academy of Arts at Milan— Theoretical Reformers of 
Science in the Sixteenth Century — Csesalpnus — CampaneUa — Ramus— 
Bnmo— Galileo— Frands Baccm — ^Establishment of Scientific Sodeties 
•— Institution of the Academia Secretorum Nature — ^Academy at Voiioe 
— ^Accademia dd Lyncd — Delia Crusca — Dd CSmento — Great number 
of Academies and Scientific Institutions founded in Italy — Hidr quaint 
Titles— Establishment of a Society of Antiquaries in England in 1572 — 
Its dissolution by James I. — Propodtion for a Royal Academy in Eng- 
land — Curious Scheme for its Incorporatbii — Charles I. grants a Special 
lioeuse for establishing a Scientific Institution styled 'Minerva's Mu- 
seum'— Objects of the Institution— Duties of the Professors— Sdeutific 
and literary Sodeties in Germany— ^Their brief existence— Number of 
Books printed in the prindpal Gties of Europe firom the Invention of 
Printing to the beginning of the Sixteenth Century — ^Establishment of 
the French Academy— Its subsequent Incorporation with the Academy 
of Sdenoes— First Institution for the Investigation of Science out of 
Italy established in England — Laplace's Opinion of Sdentific Societies. 



Origin of Royal Society involved in some obscurity — ^Wallis's account — Oxford 
Ffailoeophical Society — Their Regulations — Influential in promoting 
Establishment of Royal Society — Hooke's Answer to Cassini's State- 
ment respecting the Society — ^Boyle's Account of the Invidble College— 
Spraf s description of Meetings at Gresham College — ^Interruption occa- 
sioned by Civil Wars — Evdyn's Design for a Philosophical College — 
Cowley's Propodtion for the establishment of a College — Sir WiUiam 


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Pett/s Scheme for a Gymnasium Mechanicum, or College of Tnideemen 
— Flan of building a Fhiloeophical Institution at Vauxhall — Domestic 
troubles postpone the establishment of any Bdentific or Literary Society. 



Tlie Restoration favourable to the estabEshment of a Philosophical Society — 
Burnet's Account of the Founders of the Royal Society — Bacon's Philo- 
sophy — His Instauration of the Scienceg — New AttdaxUU — High opi- 
nion entertained of him by the eminent early Fellows of the Society — 
First Official Record of Rcyal Society— Rules and Reg^ations — Original 
Members — Design of the Society approved by Charles H. — Experiments 
proposed — Reporters of Experiments — Manner of conducting Elections 
— Officers and Servants of the Society — Meetings contemplated at the 
College of Physicians -- Page 55 


Large proportion of Physicians amongst the eariy Members of the Society — 
Profesdon of Medicine much cultivated at that period — Account of Col- 
lege of Physidanfi^-Harvey's Discovery of the Circulatbn of the Blood 
supported by the Royal Sodety^Gresham College chosen as a place of 
meeting — Sir Thomas Gresham's Will — ^Gresham ProfessorB — ^Descrip- 
tion of College — Manner of holding the Meetings — Superstitions still 
believed in— Witchcraft— Touching for the EviL^Greatrix the Stroker 
— Believed in by Boyle — May-Dew — ^Virgula Divina — Happy effi^ct 
exercised on these Superstitions by the labom^ of the Society. P^ 72 

Early Labours of the Society — Committee appcnnted to receive Experiments — 
Wren's Penduhun — Boyle's Air-Pump — Register-book opened — Ques- 
tions sent to Teneriffe— Charles I|. sends Loadstones to the Society- 
Evelyn's CoDununications— Experiments made at the Tower — Glass Rub- 
bles sent from the King—- Sir Robert Moray elected Presidentr*-Memoir 
of him — Communication respecting Barnacles — ^Time of Meeting deter- 
mined — Pecuniary Difficulties — Letter from Duke Leopold-^ Wren 
requested to make a Gbbe of the Moon for CSiaries II. — Boyle and 
Evelyn appointed Curators— Order to present Books to the Society — 
Duke of Buckingham orders his Chemist to send Charcoal to the Society 
— Sir G. Talbof s Sympathetic Powder, and Cures — ^Virgula Divina — 
Charles IL puts questions concerning the Sensitive Plant — Wren's paper 
on Saturn— The King sends papers — ^Hour of Meeting changed from 
two to three p.m. — Genoese Ambassador vidts the Society — Graunt 
dedicates his book to the Society — Unicorn's Horn— The Society meet 
in Temple Church to see an Engine — Petition to the King — Incorpo- 
ration of the Society — Deputation to wait upon the King — Preamble to 
Charter P&ge95 


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Memoir of Lord Brouncker— The Society foanded for Improvement of Natu- 
ral Knowledge — Explanation of the term — The Society return thanks to 
the King — ^Ilieir Address.Cowley'a Ode to the Society — Incoiporation 
of the Society a claim of respect to the memory of Charles II.— The King 
proposes to endow the Society with lands in Ireland — ^Duke of Ormonde 
the manager of Irish Afiairs — His political intrigues — Lord Brouncker 
addresses his Grace respecting the Societ3r's claims — Lands intended for 
the Society granted to other parties — Sir William Potty's estimaite of 
their value — First Statutes enacted — Experiments vigorously prose- 
cuted — Hooke appointed Curator — His great zeal and eneigy — Second 
Charter Page 123 


Evelyn's Designs for the Society's Armorial Bearings — Grant of Arms by 
the King— Registered in the Herald's College— First Meeting of the 
Coundl — ObBgation of Fellows — ^Business of the Sodety — Mace given 
by Charles II. — Described — Curious popular belief of its bemg the cele- . 
brated •'Bauble"— Account of the Bauble-Mace— Letter from Mr. I V^ 
Swifte, Keeper of the Regalia — ^Warrant for making ttie Mace for the \ 
Royal Society Page 142 \ 


Sorbiere's Account of his Visit to the Society — Sprat's Observations upon it. 
Moncony's Description of the Society — ^Anniversary celebrated by Fel- 
lows dining together — Charles 11. sends venison — Exeitbns to increase 
the Income of the Sodety — Petition to the King for grant of Chelsea 
College— Society issue their Warreint for the bodies of executed Crimi- 
nalft^Notice of Dissection sent to the Fellows— Sir J. Cutler founds a 
Professorship of Mechanica— Hooke appointed Professor and Curator — 
Has apartments in Gresbam Collq;e— His Micrographia printed by 
license of Council — ^Dedicated to the Society — ^Appointment of Commit- 
tee*— Charter-book opened — Expected visit of Charles 11. — ^Publication 
of IWisactioos by Oldenburg — ^Dedication of First Number — Contents 
— Tlieir sale— Tlie Plague causes a suspension of the Meetings — Olden- 
bmg remains in London— His alarm — Council-Meelinga resumed — Pur- 
chase of Mr. Colwall's Collection of Curiosities— Formation of Museum 
'^Mutmm TVadescantmn — ^Transfened to Oxford — Coflfee-House Mu- 
seumt^— Oldenburg's extensive CorrespondeDce — ^Pkesents of Rarities — %^^^ 
Weekly Meetings resumed — ^Maaten of Pest-hoose send their Observa- 
tions on the Plague to the Sodety — Experiment of Transfusion of Blood 
—Great Fire of London mtemipts the Meetings— The Society meet in 
Arandel House— Hooke's Modd for rebuilding the Qty— The Duke of 
Norfolk presents his library to the Society— Account of it—Duchess of 
Newcastle visits the Sodety—Arrest of Oldenbuig— Warrant for his 
coniinemeni in the Tower— His innocence and release— His letter to 


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Boyle— The Society obtain poeeesdon of Chebea College— Its dilapidated 
state— Scheme of btdlding a College - ContributJona of the FellowB to* 
wards the building— Wren famishes Design^— Never carried out— Pkitent 
granting Chelsea College^ and additional privileges - - - Page 166 


Committee concerning Chelsea College— Proposition from Evelyn and a 
Nobleman respecting it— Resolution to let it— Cosmo III. Grand Duke 
of Tuscany vints the Society— Experiment of Transfuong the Blood of 
a Sheep into a Man — ^Popular Belief respecting Transfusion — Queen 
orders Tliermometer to be made for her by the Society — Natural-His- 
tory CoUections made by order of the Society— Letters d recommenda^ 
tion g^ven by the Council— Flamsteed's first Conmiunication to the 
Society— CoQununications from Malpighi— Letter from Newtoi>— Ene- 
mies of the Society— Glanvill's Plus l/^fr^^— Poverty of the Society- 
Boyle lends Philosophical Appanitufr-^Wager of Charles II. — ^Newton 
prc^ioeed as Candidate by the Bishop of Salisbury — His Election — Sends 
his Reflecting Telescope to the Sodety — Si^posed by some parties 
abroad to be a Maker c^ Telescopes — His Discoveries respecting light— 
His gratitude to the Societ3r— Controversies — Bishop Wilkins leaves a 
Legacy to the Society— The Sodety invited to return to Gresham College 
— Leuwenhoeck's Microscopical Communications — Pk^esents his Micro- 
scopes to the Society — Society give his daughter a silver bowl—Pecuniary 
Difficulties — Means taken to collect Arrears — Obligation to furnish 
Sdentific Communications and Experiments — Newton exempted from 
paying his Subscription — ^Erection of Greenwich Observatory — Flamsteed 
appointed Astronomer-Royal — Society lend their Instruments to the 
Observatory — Peter the Great visits the Observatory — ^Astronomical 
Science neglected by Government — ^Valuable Communications from 
Traveilers^Pains taken by the Sodety to pnxmre information — Curious 

t/^ Account of Asbestos— Death of Oldenburg — ^Biographical Notice of 
him — ^Lord Brouncker resigns the Presidency - - . . Page 215 


Memoir of Sir J. Williamson— Norfolk Library removed to Gresham College 
—Rules for its preservation— HaUey elected — Observatory at Gresham 
College — Monument used for Astronomical purposes — Phiiosopkicai 
CoUectioM published by Hooke— His Salary increased — Sir J. William- 
son resigns — Boyle chosen President — ^His reasons for declining the 
Office— Wren dected — Memoir of him — Crew's Catalogue of the So- 
dety^s Museum— -Chdsea College sold by Wren — ^Admission of FeHows 
made more difficult — ^Wren retires from die Presidency— Evdyn solicited 
to become Presidentr— Declines— Sir John Hoskyns elected — Memoir of 

y^ him — Publication of TVansaetions resumed — ^Experiments made — Pre- 
sent of Curiosities from China — Limited state of Knowledge of Foreign 


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Countries — Sir Jcim Hoekyns resigiiB— Sir Cyni Wyche elected Pred- 
dent— Memoir of him — ^P^pin elected a Curator — His Bone-digester— 
Curious Account of a Supper prepared by him for the Fellowfr— His 
Steam-Engine Inventions— Croonian Lecture — Lady Sadleir's Legacy — 
lister's Geological Maps — Lord Clarendon's Pk«eent of Minerals- 
Resignation of §ir Cyril Wyche — Pepys elected President — Sir Thomas 
Mblyneuz's Account of the Society ^^...-.. Page 262 


Memoir of Samuel Pepys — Estabhshment of the Dublin Philosophical Society 
— ^llidr Rules — ^Auziliaiy to Royal Society— -Mr. Aston resigns the Secre- 
taryship — ^New Office created — App(nntment of Halley as Clerk — ^His 
Duties — Attempt to establish a PUbsophical Sodety at Cambridg^^ 
Newton's Letter on the subject — Death of Charles II. — His indifference 
to the Society— Sends recipe for curing Hydrophobia— Manuscript of 
Prmc^na presented to the Society-— Bailey's Letter respecting it— Council 
order it to be printed — Halley undertakes its publication — Correspond- 
ence with Newton— Fac-flimile of T^tle-page — Pepys resigns — Lord 
Carbery chosen President — Memdr of him — Hooke proposes to deliver 
a weddy Lecture— Hie Sodety in debt — Obliged to pay for Apartments 
in Gresham CoDcgtf— PlTlftBgorsTS'lKSr Rooms — Sdenlific Budness— 
Lord Carbery resigns — ^Lord Pembroke elected President - Page 295 


Memoir of Lord Pembroke— Anxiety to continue the Transactioiu — Evdyn 
agsdn solicited to become President— Declines— Election of Sir R. South- 
well — Memoir of him— Advertisement to .Trantantinm ■ Uninterrupted 
publication since 1691-^Death of Boyte —Eulogium onhiioX-Leaves his 
Minerals to the Sod tly ■ ■ H is giea treipect for the^odety — He deposits 
sealed packets — Huyghens's Aerial Tdescope^lasses— Sir R. SouthweQ 
retires from the Chair — Charles Montague elected— Memdr of him— Dr. 
Woodward's Geolofpcal Works'— His Sdenlific Labours in the Society— 
Accused of insulting Sir Hans Skxme— Ezpdied the Council— Institutes 
legal proceedings — ^Is defeated — ^Resignation of Mr. Montague— Election 
of Lord Somers as Preddent .....-*.-• P^ 321 


Memoir of Lord Somerfr— Committee appointed to wait upon him— Society 
receive valuable present from the East India Company— Halley sdk on 
a Scientific Expedition— Mr. Jones sent by the Sodety on an Expedition 
of Discovery— Resdution not to give opinions in Scientific Controversies — 
The ThmMOctumeer — Dr. Woodward disowns the Wcnrk— Favour shown 
to the Academy of Sciences— Letter of M. Geoffiroy— Zeal of Sir Hans 
Sfeane—Savery exhibits his Steam-engine— IVesents Drawing of it to the 
Sodety— Rscdves a Certificate— Performance of the Engine— Death of 


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• •• 


Hooke'-— His interest in the Society — His deagn of endowing the Society 
—His Wealth— Proposal to rebidld Gresham College— -Wren fumisbes 
plan of rooms for the Society — Scheme abandoned — ^The Society resolve 
on building or buying a House — Lord Somers resigns— Sir Isaac New- 
ton elected President - P&ge 338 


Memoir of Sir Isaac Newton — His constant attendance at the Meetings — 
Presents his Optics to the Society— Prince George of Denmark elected — 
Requested by the Society to print Hamsteed's Observaiions—Be con- 
sents to defray the Expense — Committee appointed to superintend the 
Publication — Flamsteed's Dissatisfaction — Painful Dbpute — He bums 
the Historia Calestis — Prints a more perfect edition at his own expense 
— ^Newton's Propositions for Financial Improvements — Papin's Proposal 
to construct Steam-vessel— Edinburgh Philosophical Society — ^Dee^ of 
Sir G. Copley — His Bequest— Devoted at first to Experimiente — ^Gold 
Medal aftorwards adopted— Awarded to Dr. Franklin— Mercers' Com- 
pany give notice of their intention to withhold Apartments — Petition to 
the Queen for Land m Westminster— Application to Trustees of Cotton 
librar)' — ^Purchase of Dr. Brown's House in Crane Court — Objections 
by some of the FeUows — Proceedings of Council with respect to the 
Removal — First Meeting in Crane Court— Regret of the Gresham Pro- 
fessors on the Departure of the Sodety Page 367 


House occupied by the Sodety in Crane Court — FeUows subscribe to defray 
the expense of Repairs — Ode by a Frenchman to the Society — Society 
appointed Visitors of Royal Observatory, by Royal Warrant — Flam- 
steed's Vexation — His Conduct on the occasion — ^Visitors examine the 
Observatory — Recommend Repairs and new Instruments — Ordnance 
decline to undertake the work — The Queen wishes the Sodety to take care 
of the Observatory— Appointment of celebrated Committee on the disputed 
Invention of Fluxions — Historical Account of the Dispute — Report of 
Committee — Society adopt the Report — Leibnitz dissatisfied — ^Appeals to 
the Sodety through Chamberlayne— Society confirm the Report of thdr 
Committee in favour of Newton — Remarkable Error of Writers on this 
Subject — Probable Origin of the Error—Fordgn Ambassadors attend 
&e Meetings — Experiments exhibited before them^-Queen orders her 
Foreign Ministers to assist in promoting the Objects of the Sodety — 
Fossil Remains sent from America — Philosophical Society established 
at Spalding — ^Curious list of the Fello^vB published — Bequests to the 
Royal Sodety — Fordgn Secretary appointed — Opinion of Attorney- 
General— Petition to George I. for Licence to purchase or hold lands in 
Mortmain — King grants the prayer of the Society - - - Page 3<J8 


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Impetus given to the Study of Meteorology —Illness of Newton — His 
last Attendance at the Society— His Death— His intention of endowing 
the Society— Speculates in South Sea Scheme— His Order to purchase 
Stock — His Sun-dial presented to the Society — Portraits of him — Origi- 
nal Mask of his Face— Lock of his Hair — Sir Hans Sloane elected Pre- 
sident— Menunr of him — Proposes an Address to George IL— His Mar 
jesty becomes the Patron of the Society — Important changes made in the 
Statutes^— Proposition to limit the number of FeUows — 0[union of Lord 
ChanceUor Hardwicke — ^Certificates for Candidates first used-^Their 
great Value— Diplomas — Foreign Members exempted from Payments—- 
Socie^ purchase Estate at Acton— Practice of Inoculation promoted — 
Prince of Wales visits the Society— Experiments made before him — Dr. 
Watson's Electrical Experiments — Science of Electricity originates from 
Royal Society — Large amount of Scientific Business — Experiments on 
Ether— Society at Peterborough— Donation to Museum— Botanical Spe- 
cimens sent from Apothecaries' Garden at Chdsea, by order of Sir Hans 
Sloane— Pecuniary Embarrassment of the Society— Sir Hans Sloane 
resigns — Hianks of Society given to him — His great attachment to the 
Sodety^Martin Folkes elected President Page 434 


Memoir of Martin Folkefr— His Acquirements more literary than Scientific 
— Sir John Hill's Review of the Royal Society— Death of Halley— For- 
mation of Royal Society Club— Originally entitled 'Chib of Royal Phi- 
loBophers'— llidr Rules — Receive presents of Vemson, &c. — ^Cost of 
Dining — Present Rules — List of Members — ^Philosophical Club—Their 
Rules— Original Members — Fairchild Lecture instituted— .Dr. Knight 
reomes Copley Medal — Discovery of Nutation by Bradley — Harrison's 
Chronometers — ^The Copley Medal awarded — Authorities request the 
asnstanoe of the Society to ventilate Newgate — Sanitary Measures taken 
by Sir John Pringle — ^Canton's Method of making Artificial Magnets — 
He recdves the Copley Medal — Dr. Gowan Knight's Method — Contro- 
versy between Canton and Michell— Letter from Dr. Priestley — Change 
of Style— Tables prepared by Mr. Daval, Secretary to the Society — ^As- 
sistance afforded by Father Walmsley — Alterations proposed by Lord 
Macclesfield in the mode of publishing the TVon^acfioiM'— Committee of 
Papers appointed — ^Advertisement m the Volume for 1753 — Cost of 
Printing the Transactions — Translation of the Transactions published in 
Italy — ^Resignation of Martin Folkes — Earl of Macclesfield chosen Presi- 
dent — Mr. Folkes leaves the Society in a prosperous condition — Large 
number of Visitors to the Meetings — Stukele/s notice of the Meetings — 
His description of a Geological Soiree— Conceives Corals to be Vege- 
tables Page 479 


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Meeting- Room of Royal Society, Crane Court - To hce Title, 

Anns of the Royal Society iii 

Gresham College 83 

Newton's Telescope 261 

Fac-Simile of Title-Page of the Prmc^ 315 

House in which Newton was h(»n ...... 366 

Copley Medal 397 

Mask of Newton 447 

Dial made by Newton ..--..... 478 


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State of Literature and Science in Europe during the Twelfth and 
Thirteenth Centuries — ^Prevalence of Ecclefflastical Authoritj-T- 
Its banefiil effect on Learning — ^Lahours of Barlaam, Petrarch/ 
and Boccaccio— Their zeal for Classical Literature— Restoration 
of Classical Learning in Italy — Discovery of Ancient Manu*. 
scripts — Patronage of learning hy the Medici family — Phi<^ 
losophy not advanced — Roger Bacon — Other English Philo- 
sophers-^Leonardo da Vinci — ^Hia great philosophical acquire- 
ments — Establishes an Academy of Arts at Milan — Theoretical 
Reformers of Science in the Sixteenth Century — Caraalpinus— • 
Campanella ^Ramus — Bruno — Galileo -— Francis Bacon— ^ 
Establishment of Scientific Societies — Institution of the 
Academia Secretorum Naturae — Academy at Venice — Accsl^ 
demia dei Lyncei — Delia Crusca — Del Cimento— Oreat number 
of Academies and Scientific Institutions founded in Italy— 
Th^ quaint Titles — ^Establishment of a Society of Antiquaries 
in England in 1572 — ^Its dissolution by James I. — Proposi- 
tion for a Royal Academy in England— Curious Scheme for 
its Incorporation— Charles I. grants a Special License for esta- 
blishing a Scientific Institution styled ^ Minerva's Museum' — 
Objects of the Institution — ^Duties of the Professors*— Scientific 
and Literary Societies in Germany — Their brief existence- 
Number of Books printed in the principal Cities of Europe from 
the Invention of Printing to the beginning of the Sixteenth Cen- 
tury — Establishment of the French Academy — Its subsequent 
Incorporation with the Academy of Sciences — First Institution 
for the Ihvestigation of Science out of Italy, established in Eng- 
land — ^Laplace's Opinion of Scientific Societies. 

ON the fair land of Italy rose the intellectual sun, 
whose vivifying rays penetrated, and eventually 
dispersed, the gloomy clouds of deep ignorance and 

VOL. I. B 


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2 XS^^Z^''^^^ HISTORY OF 

8iipei:iftitio n,lbhat hung over Europe from the decline 
ofthe Roman Empire. 

The long interval, from the overthrow of Roman 
civilization to the fourteenth century, is mainly cha- 
racterized by the absolute reign of ecclesiastical 
authority. In conamon with all earthly powers, Philo- 
sophy was compelled to bow before the altar of 
Church despotism, and was solely employed in the 
defence of a subtile and mystical theology. 

"It was an offence" says Dr. Whewell, "against 
religion as well as reason, to reject the truth ; and 
the truth could be but one. In this manner arose 
that d^um, which the doctors of the Church put forth, 
to control men*s opinions upon all subjects*.*' Ten- 
nemann, in his Geschichte der Philosophie, mentions 
a papal rescript^ admonishing the members of an 
university to **be content with the landmarks of 
science already fixed by their fathers, to have due 
fear of the curse pronounced against him who re- 
moveth his neighbour's landmark, and not to incur 
the blame of innovation or presumption*." 

"The Italians in the thirteenth century," remarks 
Professor Ranke, "manifested a grand tendency to- 
wards searching investigation, intrepid pursuit of 
truth, noble aspirations, and high prophetic visions 
of discovery- Who shall say whither this tendency 
would have led ? But the Church marked out a line 
which they were not to overstep, — ^woe to him who 
ventured to pass it' !" 

Barlaam, a Calabrian monk, and afterwards Bishop 
of Locri, had considerable influence in reviving a 

" Phil. Ind. Se., Vol. n. p. 161. • Vol. vm. p. 461. 

f Hi$i. of the Pcpei^ VoL i. p. 602. 


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taste for classical literature in Italy. The Calabrian 
Churches were long attached to the throne of Con* 
stantinople, and several of the monks of St. Basil 
pursued their studies on mount Athos, and the schools 
of the East* Barlaam visited Constantinople in the 
early part of the fourteenth century; and, when sent, 
in 1339, as ambassador to Pope Benedict the Twelfth, 
had the good fortune to be the first to revive beyond 
the Alps the memory, or rather the writings, of 
Homer\ According to Petrarch and Boccaccio, he 
was a man far in advance of the age in which he 
lived, and gifted with profound learning and genius\ 

At the court of Avignon he formed an intimate 
acquuntance with Petrarch, and had considerable 
influence on the studies of this immortal poet^ who 
stands prominently forward as one of the great rege- 
nerators of literature ; the pioneer and handmaid to 
science. At Petrarch's recommendation, the Republic 
of Florence founded a chair of Grecian literature in 
1360^; and we are informed that the highest honour 
was attached to classical learning, and that Petrarch, 
Dante, and Boccaccio, obtained a degree of celebrity 
for their erudition unequalled by the schoolmen of 
the middle ages. 

These men, says Tennemann, rcaren die ersten 
Dichter von atisgezeichneter originalitaU die zugleich 
mit hoher Achtung^ gegen die Classiker erfiiUt Toaren^ 
und den Enthusiusmtis verhreiteten^ mit welchem die 
griechisehe Literatur aufgenommen wurdeK 

* Gibbon, Dee. and Fail of the Ram. Em.^ Vol. xn. p. 116. 

* Boccaccio, de Gen&dog. Deorum^ 1. xr. c. 6. 

* Mim. 8ur laVisde Petrarquej Tom. i. p. 406. 

^ SKsmondi, Ital. Rep. " GewA., Vol. ix. p. 15. 



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The Italians may, indeed, be said to have dis-* 
covered as it were anew the ancient world of literature; 
and a passion for erudition spread throughout the 
land, with an ardour and rapidity highly remarkable, 
when contrasted with the ignorance of the preceding 

The wealthy inhabitants of the principal Italian 
cities became ardent cultivators of literature and 
philosophy, in the true original meaning of this word, 
and aU Europe was ransacked to discover the manu* 
scripts of classical authors. The success of the search, 
however, was greatly impeded by the monks, whose 
interest it was to keep the literary treasures to them- 
selves, as the transcribing of them was a source of 
considerable emolument. Poggio, a contemporary of 
Petrarch, has given us a melancholy account of the 
barbarous ignorance of the monastic possessors of 
some of the ancient manuscripts. When attending 
the Council at Constance, he visited the Convent of 
Saint Gallo, situated about twenty miles from that 
town, where, he was informed, certain manuscripts 
were kept, and this, on examination, proved to be the 
fact. His words record graphically the condition 
in which they were found: Tra una grandissima 
copia di libri di6 egli che lungo sarehbe Vannoverare, 
trovammo un Quintiliano ancor sano e salvOy ma pien 
di polvere e d'immondezza ; perciocche eran qtie' libri 
nella biblioteca, rum com' il loro onor richiedevOy ma 
sepoHi in una oscura e tetra prigione, doe nel fondo 
di una tcrrey in cui non si getterehbon nemmeno i 

* Hallam sajs, '* Petrarch was more proud of his Latin poem 
called Africa^ than of the sonnets and odes which have made him 


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dannaii a morte^^. In this dungeon of a turret, which 
formed part of the convent, Poggio discovered, besides 
the Quintilian, several rare manuscripts, including a 
portion of the Argonautics of Valerius Flaccus". 

There is a story told by Chapelain, the poet, that 
the tutor of a Marquis di Rouville, having sent to 
Saumur for some rackets, found upon the parchment 
composing them, the titles of the 8th, 10th, and 
11th Decads of Livy: on applying to the racket- 
maker, the latter stated that a pile of parchment 
volumes, some of which contained the history of Livy, 
had been procured from the abbess of Fontevrault, 
and that out of these he had made une multitude 
tres grande de battoirs. Exaggerated as this story 
may be, it certainly derives some degree of credibility 
from the well-known fact, that Sir Robert Cotton 
rescued the original Magna Charta from the hands 
of a tailor, who was on the point of cutting it up 
for measures. Brighter days were, however, at hand : 
literature and the arts and sciences found a congenial 
abode at Florence, and patrons in the Medici family. 
Cosmo, the Pater Patrice, bom in 1389, and created 
Prior in 1416, was the head of a commercial esta- 
blishment, which had counting-houses in all the great 
cities of Europe, and in the Levant. He cultivated 
literature with ardour ; and his palace, one of the 
most smnptuous in Florence, was the habitual resort 
of artists, poets, and learned men. At the suggestion 
of Germistus Pletho, a native of the Morea^ Cosmo 
founded a Platonic Academy in Florence, at first, for 

*• Tiraboschi, Star, del Lit. Ital., VoL vi. p. 121. 

" Auiispa was also very sucoessfol in his seaich for ancient MSS. 
In 1423 he brought home to Venioe 238 volumes. Tiraboschi, Vol. 
VI. p. 102. 


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the purpose of studying the works of Plato ; though, 
subsequently, Italian literature, and particularly the 
study and explanation of the poetry of Dante were 
added. This Academy was greatly patronized by 
Lorenzo de' Medici, who was in the habit of giving 
parties at his villa at Fiesole, when certain portions 
of the works of Plato were discussed *■• "Nor was 
mere philology, the sole or leading pursuit to which 
so truly noble a mind accorded its encouragement. 
He sought in ancient learning something more ele^ 
vated than the narrow, though necessary, researches 
of criticism. In a villa overhanging the towers of 
Florence, on the steep slope of that lofty hill crowned 
by the mother-city, the ancient Fiesole, in gardens 
which Tully might have envied, with Ficino, Landino, 
and Politian at his side, he delighted his hours of 
leisure with the beautiful visions of Platonic philo* 
sophy, for which the summer stillness of an Italian 
skj^peaxs the most congenial accompaniment *\" 

Philosophy, however, during the thirteenth, four- 
teenth, and fifteenth centuries, was, as far as pro- 
gress is concerned, literally at a stand still. As Dr. 
Whewell remarks : '' The same knots were tied and 
untied; the same clouds were formed and dissipated '^" 
Our countryman, Roger Bacon, a giant of pro- 
found understanding in his generation, must be cited 
as an exception to the general class of schoolmen — 
to this general *' opake of nature and of soul." Bom 
as early as 1214, his learning was such as to gain 
him the title of Doctor Mirabilis from his brother 
Franciscan monks; and his Optis Majus^ addressed 

" Roscoe, Life of Lorenzo di Medici, 

" Hallam, Int. to the Lit. of Eur., Vol. i. p. 243. 

\' Hi9t. Ind. Scl, Vol. I. p. 340. 


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to Pope Clement IV., displays a mode of philoso-> 
phizing £ax in advance of the age in which he lived. 
This is particularly evident in the 6th part, entitlej 
De scieniia experimeTUali^. 

But the labours of Bacon brought forth po fruit. 
^Some change, disastrous to the fortunes of sci^ 
ence, must have taken place about 1280, soon after 
the foundation of the Dominican and Franciscan 
orders. Kor can we doubt that the adoption of the 
Aristotelian philosophy by these two orders, was one 
of those events which most tended to defer for three 
centuries, the reform which Roger Bacon urged, as a 
matter of crying necessity, in his own time^V ^ 

N^ Other English names might be adduced to prove 
that this country was not deficient during the 13th, 
14th, and 15th centuries, in men whose abilities were 
of a high philosophical order, though their writings 
do not render them so well known to posterity as 
Boger Bacon. Professor De Morgan, in showing that 
this country held a conspicuous rank in the philosophy 
of tiie middle ages, gives a list of no fewer than 

^ Boger Bacon's philofiophy is well illustzated by the following 
jwange from the above work: — Duo $uni moc^ cogno9eendi; jci- 
licet per argumentum et eajpertmentum, Argumentum caneludit et 
faeit not eanclvdere questionem; ted non certificat neque removet 
duHtatianem, ut guieeeai animus in intuitu veritatis^ nisi earn inve^ 
ma$ via eaperientiw; quia multi habent argumenta ad eeibilia eed 
quia nan habemt experientiam negliffw/U ea neque wtant nociva nee 
jpereequuntur bona. Si enim aUquia homo qui nunqttam vidii ignem 
probavit per argumenta sufflcientia quod ignie comburit et lasdit ree 
et destruit, nunquam propter hoc quiesceret animus audientis nee 
ignem vitaret antequam poneret manum vd rem eombustibilem ad 
-ignem, ui per experientiam probaret quod argumentum edocebat; 
sed assumptd eaperientid combustionis certifieatur animus et quiescit 
in fulgore veritatis quo argumentum non suffidt^ sed experientia» 

»• PhU. Ind. Sei.y Vol. n. p. 173. 


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ninety-six English mathematical and astronomical 
writers between 1068 and 1599, and remarks, that he 
bad no doubt but that it might still be enlarged; 
and Captain Smyth, in his Celestial Cyde^ says, allud- 
ing to this period, that '^ England has contributed her 
ftill quota to the series of philosophical and zealous 
enquirers who have so largely opened the human in- 

Leonardo da Vinci claims notice, as combining 
in a most remarkable manner, the professions 
of mathematician and engineer, as well as painter, 
sculptor, and architect. He was bom in 1452^ and, 
during a considerable portion of his life, devoted 
himself to science, looking to nature as the true 
9turce of knowledge. He maintained that '' in the 
study of the sciences which depend on mathematics^ 
those who do not consult nature, but authors, are 
not the children of nature, but only her grandchildren. 
She is the true teacher of men and genius." ** But^** 
he adds, '^see the absurdity of men. They turn up 
their noses at a man who prefers to learn from nature 
herself rather than from authors who are only her 
clerks"." His Manuscripts, which remain unpublished 
at Milan, and in the library of the Institute at Paris ^% 
abundantly attest his diligence and application, par- 
ticularly to mechanics, which he styled U paradise 
delle scienze matematiche percM eon queUa si viene al 
frutto delie scienze matematiche^^. Dr. Whewell states 
that ''he is no inconsiderable figure in the prelude 

" Ventiiri, E99a% iur lea Outragea de Leonard da Vinci. 

" Two Volumes are at Milan, one in Paris, which was ab- 
stracted from Milan when Napoleon's army was in possession of 
that city. 

" Lihri, Hist. dee. Set. Mat. en Italie, in which many eztiacto 
from his MSS. are given. 


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to the great discoveries in both these sciences ;" and 
Humboldt pronounces him " the greatest physicist of 
the fifteenth century, combining distinguished mathe- 
matical knowledge with the most admirable and pro- 
found insight into nature. If the physical views of 
Leonardo da Vinci had not remained buried in his 
manuscripts, the field of observation, which the new 
world offered, would have been already cultivated 
scientifically in many of its parts before the great 
epoch of Galileo, Pascal, and Huygens. Like Francis 
Bacon, and a full century before him, he regarded 
induction as the only sure method in natural science ; 
dobbiamo commindare daW esperienza^ e per mezzo 
di questa scoprine la ragione\ 

Whilst residing at Milan, under the patronage 
of Ludovico il Moro, he established an Academy of 
Arts, in which the study of Geometry was much cul- 
tivated, under the auspices of himself and of his Mend 

Passing on to the sixteenth century, we find the 
names of individuals, whose philosophic doctrines 
are stamped with the elements of change. Ber- 
nardinus Telesius, bom at Cosenza^ in the kingdom 
of Naples, in 1608; Andrew Csesalpinus, bom at 
Arezzo in 1520; Thomas Campanella^ born at Stilo 
in Calabria^ in 1568 ; Peter Ramus'^ bom in Picardy 
in 1515 ; Giordano Bruno^, bom at Nola about 1550 ; 

•• Comoi, Vol. n. p. 285. 

'* Pacioli, Dimna proportione. Amorette Memorie^ p. 40. * 

** He is odebiated as having successfully defended for an entire 
day the thesis ; — "^ All that Aristotle said is not true ;" in those days 
a dangerous experiment. Tennemann, ix. p. 420. 

" The name of Bruno is dear to the English philosopher ; at the 
cost of his life he maintained his enlightened sdentiBc views, being 


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Galileo^, born at Pisa in 1564, and others of less 
note, were all men devoted to science, whose minds 
were possessed with grand and vigorous ideas, and 
who unshritikingly supported their philosophy at the 
price of imprisonment and martyrdom. 

Turning to our own country, we have the proud 
l)bast of claiming Francis Bacon, whose labours pro* 
bably did more to clear away the wretched systems 
which trammelled and shut out the light of sci* 
entific truth, than any other philosopher of his age. 
Of him more will be said presently. 
^ A natural consequence of a similarity of pur- 
suits was association; and, accordingly, we find 
societies springing up under the fostering hand of 
the new reformers. 

>^"Tlie first Society instituted for the investigation 
of physical science, was that established at Naples, 
in the year 1560, with the name of Academia Secre- 
torum Naturce. The Members of this Academy 
appear to have laboured diligently under the presi- 
dency of G. Porta, but their studies were prema- 
turely brought to a close, the Academy having been 
dissolved by the ecclesiastical authorities**. 

burnt at Rome, in February 1600, declaring to bis unjust judges, as 
the flames were rising around him, ^^ Your sentence strikes more 
fear into your souls than / now feel." Tiraboschi, xi, p. 437* Bruno 
bad taken refuge from his persecutors in England about the year 
1583, where, according to Libri> be published hiB Spacciodella bestia 

** It is psdnful to pass this great name with the mere mention of 
it. In an introductory chapter of this kind, space would be want- 
ing to give even an outline of Galileo's labours. Their effect in 
advancing science is, happily, so well known, as to render this 

» Tiraboschi, Vol. vn. p. 153. 


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The pontificate of Leo X. was chiefly distin- 
gaislied by the encouragement given to the arts and 
Uterature. The Roman Academy flourished under 
his protection, and in 1514, above one himdred pro- 
fessors attached to it received salaries. — ^Indepen-* 
dently of this Academy, Leo founded another for 
the sole study of the Greek language, where, accord- 
ing to Tiraboschi, a Greek press was established, and 
ihe scholiasts on Homer printed. ** Those were happy 
days,'* says Sadolet, writing in 1529 to Angelo Colocci, 
'^when, in your suburban gardens, or mine on the 
Quirinal, or in the circus, or by the banks of the 
Tiber, we held those meetings of learned men, all 
recommended by their own virtues, and by public 
reputation. Then it was, after a repast, which the 
wit of the guests rendered exquisite, we heard poems 
or orations recited to our great delight, productions 
of the ingenious Casanuova, the sublime Yida, the 
elegant and correct Biroaldo, and many others, still 
living, or now no more"." 

We must not omit to notice the Academy esta* 
blished at Venice by Aldo Manuzio, for the ostensible 
purpose of promoting literature generally, but more 
immediately, as Zeno states in his Notizie de Manuzi^ 
to superintend the production of the works issuing 
from the celebrated press of the founder, and of ren- 
dering them as perfect and elegant as possible^. That 

^ Epist., p. 225, edit 1554. 

" This xecaUfl to mind the method adopted by Stephens of Paris 
who was in the hahit of hanging up his proofs of the chissical 
authors in puhlic places, that they might reoeive the corrections of 
the learned. It is said that his New Testament, calkd O Miri-^ 
fieant^ (heoaase the Fxe&oe begins with these words), has not a 
single fiiult* 


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this Academy laboured efficiently, and was of signal 
use to literature, and incidentally to science, there 
is no doubt. — ^The fame of Aldus, and his press, 
extended in a very short time to England. The 
author of a quaint old book published in the six-^ 
teenth century, entitled Janva Lingvamm^ says, in 
the section treating of the means to be employed in 
order to write elegantly, Primo coUigendce sunt 
ex autortbus qui ex prqfesso de his traetant phrases 
similiter et elegantioBj quales ad lingwim Latinam 
habet Aldtis Manutius. The principal members of 
the above Academy were, Mesuro, Peter Bembo, 
afterwards created a Cardinal; Gabrielli, Navagero, 
Binieri, Sanuto, Bamberti, and Egnazio^. Sicily also 
boasted of her Academies. Several were established 
in Palermo, between the years 1 549 and 1588, under, 
as Captain Smyth informs us, the '^ ostensible names 
of Gli Ebbri, or drunken; Riaccesi, or re-ignited; 
Addolorati^ or grieved; Genialiy or sympathetic; 
Animosi, or intrepid, and others",'* That of the 
Eiaccesi was one of the most famous, and another 
entitled the Sregolati^ cultivated science. 

The example thus set by the principal cities in 
Italy was speedily imitated by other towns in that 
country; and we find an extraordinary number of 
Academies and Societies springing up, the majority 
of which enjoyed but a very ephemeral existence. 
The members of these institutions were sometimes 
ladies, who formed societies, where they recited their 
poetical compositions. Tiraboschi, in his elaborate 

*" HaUam states that the members of this Academy may be 
considered as literary partners of the noble-minded printer. 
■• Sicily, p. 41. 


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Work, has given a list of no fewer than 171 Academies, 
instituted for the cultivation of literature and science, 
independent of the Universities. The titles of some 
of these Societies are extremely curious, and in many 
instances ludicrous. Thus we have, The Inflammable ; 
the Pensive ; the Intrepid ; the Humourists ; the Un- 
ripe; the Drowsy; the Rough; the Dispirited; the 
Solitary ; the Fiery ; the Lyncean (of which Galileo 
was a member) ; and the Delia Crusca, literally, of 
the bran or chafi^ in allusion to its great object^ which 
was *to sift the flour of language from the bran. This 
celebrated Academy, founded at Florence in 1582, for 
the purpose of purifying the national tongue, and 
which published the first edition of its well-known 
Dictionary in 1612, adopted for its device a sieve, 
with the motto, II piu bel fim* ne coglia^, and the 
Lyncean used as their symbol rain dropping from a 
cloud, with the motto, Bedit agmine dulci^. The 
strange desire that was manifested to give many of 
these Institutions, avowedly established for noble pur^ 
poses, absurd names, was not long in meeting with 
appropriate ridicule, of which a proof will be found 
in the work of Menkenius, De Chqrlatanerie Ei'v^ 

'^ ^ The Academy still assembles in the Palazzo Ricardi for the 
^nnalities of holding* meetings, and granting diplomas. The backs 
of their arm-chairs are in the shape of a winnowing shovel; the 
seats represent sacks; every member takes a name allusive to the 
millei's calling, and receives a grant of an estate, properly described 
by metes and bounds, in Arcadia." Murray's HandrBooky Northern 
Italy^ p. 549. 

'* See, for some curious particulars relative to this Society, Mr» 
D. Bethune's Life of Galileo. After slumbering for many years, 
it was reorganized about forty years ago. Some of our philosophers 
axe members of this Society. 


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The Accademia del Cimento demands particular 
mention, as being the first Institution whose mem- 
bers earnestly and successfully devoted themselves 
to the investigation of physical science. It was esta- 
blished at Florence, on the 19th June, 1657, under 
the patronage of the Grand Duke Ferdinand II., and 
by desire of his brother Leopold, who acted upon 
the advice of Viviani, the great geometrician. The 
Academicians assembled in the Ducal Palace, when^ 
according to Tiraboschi, the royal host and his fitmily 
mingled as equals with the most humble members 
of the Academy. " The name this Society assumed 
gave promise of their fundamental rule, the investi- 
gation of truth by experiment alone. The number 
of Academicians was unlimited, and all that was 
required as an article of faith, was the abjuration 
of all faith, and a resolution to inquire into truth, 
without regard to any previous sect of philosophy. 
This Academy lasted, unfortunately, but ten years in 
vigour. It is a great misfortune for any literary in- 
stitution to depend on one man, and especially on a 
prince, who, shedding a factitious, as well as some- 
times a genuine lustre round it, is not easily replaced 
without a diminution of the world's regard. Leopold, 
in 1667, became a Cardinal, and was thus withdrawn 
from Florence ; other members of the Accademia del 
Cimento died or went away, and it rapidly sunk into 
insignificance'*." This Society, however, did not cease 
to exist without leaving a record of its labours. A 
volume containing reports of the Experiments made 
by the Academy, was printed in 1666, including, with 
many others, those on the supposed incompressibility 

Hallam, InU to Lit. of Europe^ VoL nr. p. 562. 

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of water, the universal gravity of bodies, and the 
property <rf electrical matters. The work testifies to 
the diligence and inquiring spirit of the niembers'\ 
Amongst these, Castellio and Torricelli, disciples of 
Galileo, were the most illustrious; to them are due 
many great discoveries in the science of hydraulics; 
whilst the invention of the barometer alone, renders 
the name of Torricelli immortal. He made this dis* 
covery in 1643 ; and in 1648, Pascal, by his cele- 
brated experiment on the Puy de Dome, establisfa^ 
the theory of atmospheric pressure beyond dispute. 

The rapid rise of the numerous Academies and 
Societies, together with the establishment of Univer*- 
sities and Libraries, abundantly attest the extraordi- 
naiy ardour that prevailed throughout Italy for the 
revival of literature and the advancement of scienca 
Up to this period, however, there is no record of the 
establishment of any Academy or Institution in France 
or Germany similar to those in Italy. ^But it is 
deserving of remark,'* says Mr. Hallam, "that one 
sprung up in England, not indeed of the classical and 
polite character that belonged to the Inflammati of 
Padua, or the Delia Crtisca of Florence, yet useful 
in its objects, and honourable alike to its members 
and to the country. This was the Society of Anti- 
quaries, founded by Archbishop Parker, in 1572. 
Their object was the preservation of ancient docu- 
ments» illustrative of history, which the recent disso* 
lution of religious houses, and the shamefiil devasta- 
tion attending it, had exposed to great peril. They 
intended also, by the reading of papers at their meet- 
ings^ to keep alive the love and knowledge of English 
Antiquity. In the second of these objects this Society 

" Tiraboschi, Vol. vm. p. 242. 

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was more successful than in the first; several short 
dissertations, chiefl;)%by Arthur Agard, their most 
active member, having been afterwards publishedL 
The Society comprised very reputable names, especi- 
ally of lawyers, and continued to meet till early in the 
reign of James, who, from some jealousy, thought fit 
to dissolve it"/' 

The introduction to the first Volume of the Ar^ 
chceologia contains an interesting account of this 
Society. They intended, it appears, to apply to 
Queen Elizabeth for a Charter of Incorporation, as 
"An Academy for the Studye of Antiquity and His- 
tory, under a President, two Librarians, and a num- 
ber of Fellows, with a body of Statutes; the Library 
to be called ' The Library of Queen Elizabeth,' and 
to be well furnished with scarce books, original char- 
ters, muniments, and other MSS. : the Members to 
take the oath of supremacy, and another, to preserve 
the Library; the Archbishop and the great officers 
of state for the time being to visit the Society every 
five years ; the place of meeting to be in the Savoy, 
or the dissolved priory of Saint John of Jerusalem, 
or elsewhere'*." 

It does not appear that a Charter was granted; 
find although the Society comprised some very emi- 
nent men, and met weekly in the apartments of Sir 
William Dethike, in the Herald's Office, it was eventu- 
fiUy dissolved by James I. about the year 1604*. 

" InU to Lit., Vol. II. p. 262. 

■• The present Society of Antiquaries, established in Feb. 171 7» 
and incorporated in 1751, is the representative of this Elizabethan 
progenitor. It will be remembered that Leland was appointed 
* Royal Antiquary' by Henry VIII. 

'' This sovereign, by letters patent, bearing date Aug. 13^ 1609, 


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In 1616, or 1617, a scheme for founding a Royal 
Academy in England was started by Edmund Bolton, 
an eminent scholar and antiquary of that period. 
There is some account of this design in the introduc- 
tion to the Archceologia ; but we are indebted to the 
Rev. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A., for a more ample sketch, 
in a paper contained in the thirty-second volume of that 
work. Without adducing the various authorities which 
have enabled him to furnish us with his interesting ^" 

pi^r, we pass to the following extract, premising 
that Bolton had gained the patronage of influential 

"The inception of the design is to be referred to 
the year 1616 or 1617. This was in the second year 
of Villiers' introduction at Court; and there can 
hardly be a doubt that Bolton saw, in the rising 
influence of his countryman and distant kinsman, a 
circumstance favourable to the success of his design 
It must also be mentioned, to the honour of Villiers, 
that he was a lover and encourager of the arts and 
literature by natural inclination. The subject was 
first moved to him, having then become Marquis of 
Buckingham ; and Bolton was introduced by him to 
the King when at Newmarket, in 1617. There and 
then the first outline of the project was presented to 
his Majesty. The Marquis of Buckingham also spoke 
of it in parliament, where the design was favourably 
received by many of the lords. This was probably in 
March 1621, when the Marquis opened a design for a 

granted tb« Temple to the Benchers of the two Societies, called 
the Inner and Middle Temple. The Temple is spoken of as being 
*^ of the number of those four most famous Colleges of Europe." 
VOL. I. C 


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college for the education of the young nobility, as 
we find on the journals." 

Bolton's petition proposes that the Title of the 

Institution shall be '' King James his Academe or 

/ College op Honour." The King was very well dis- 

/ posed towards it " He grew," says Bolton, "so favor- 

/ able to it, that besides approbation of the whole, 

because it was purely for the public ; it finally pleased 

him, after some years had passed firom the time of 

\ the first overture thereof, to enlarge the institution 

' itself with more grants and faculties than were de- 

N^ sired." 

.It was ultimately settled that the Academy was 
'' to consist of three classes of persons, who were to 
be called TtUelaries^ AtixUiaries^ and Essentials. The 
TtUelaries were to be Knights of the Garter, with the 
Lord Chancellor, and the Chancellors of the two Uni- 
versities. The Auadliaries were to be lords and 
others, selected out of the flower of the nobility, and 
councils of war, and of the new plantations. The 
Essentials^ upon whom the weight of the work was to 
lie, were to be persons called out from the most able 
and most famous lay gentlemen of England, masters 
of families, or being otherwise men of themselves, and 
either living in the light of things, or without any 
title of profession, or art of life, for lucre : such per- 
sons being already of other bodies." 

The paper proceeds to specify the duties of the 
members, who were to wear a green ribbon, with the 
device of the Society composed of the four capital 
letters J. R. F. C. {Jacobus Rex^ Fundator CoUegii), 
intertwined with a thread under a crown imperial: 
and who were to honour, love, and serve one another, 


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according to St. John : Non tantum verba et lingtut^ 
sed apere et veriiate. 

A list of the members is contained in Bolton's 
original manuscript, amongst which it is very inte- 
resting to find the name of Sir Kenelm Digby, one of 
the original members of the Royal Society, by whom 
the latter is connected with the proposed Academy. 
^ He was,'' says Mr. Hunter, '* almost the only natural 
philosopher and experimenter who was a member of 
the proposed Academy, and placed there rather, it 
may be presumed, as a philologer than a philosopher, 
for he was both." 

The death of the King, which occurred in March 
1625, seems to have been &tal to the completion of 
the undertaking; for, although his successor was 
favourably disposed towards it, political events inter- 
fered, and led to its final abandonment. 

Ten years subsequent to the dissolution of the 
foregoing Academy, another attempt was made to 
establish a scientific Institution under the patronage 
of Charles I., who, in the eleventh year of his reign, 
granted a special licence under the privy seal, to found 
a College, or Academy, with the title of Minerva's 
Museum^ for the instruction of the young nobility in 
the liberal arts and sciences. Sir Francis Kynaston, 
who was one of the four Esquires of the King's body, 
was appointed Governor, or Regent ; and the follow- 
ing extract from the licence sets forth the objects of 
the proposed Institution : 

Bex, omnibus ad quo8 4«. Salutem. Cum Nos ex sped- 
aU ffratid nostrd et ex benevolo erga universwm Populum 
Beffni nostri Magne Britanie affectu publico commodo et 
uttUtoOi prospieientes comperimus et intelleximus, quod erec* 
tio et institutio alicujus Domus, Sodetatis aut Hospidi 



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admodum CoUegii sen Cenobii, infra civitatem regiam nos^ 
tram atiguatam London, aut prope iUam foret per quam 
commoda et necessaria ad eruditionem filiorum Nobilium 
nostrorum et aliorum ingenue natorum, in omnibus Literis 
humaniaribtia artibus, liberabilibus et scientiis Ileitis et 
laudabilibus quarum ope et adminiculo prefati subditi nos^ 
tri adolescentes artibus et scientiis predictis omati et in- 
structi, magis docti et idonei et evaderent tarn ad publica 
Reipublice munera exequenda quam ad officia Magistra- 
tuum gerenda. 

Cum autem fidelis et dilectus famulus noster, Franciscus 
Kinaston, Miles unus i quatuor corporis nostri armigerisj 
ex singulari ^us erga Nos fide et observantia et haud vul- 
gari erga Patriam suam anu>re, studioque non minori pro-- 
movendi Literas et excolendi aninu>s nobilioris hujus seculi 
juventutis, artibus ingenuis et scientiis generoso homine dig- 
nis, ^usque predicte Domus erectioni et institutioni suppe- 
das attulit, ut propria sua industria invenit et proprias 
et propriis suis sumptibus emit et comparavit edifidum sive 
domum satis aptam et commodam, qui fuit tale Hospitium 
sive Collegium in quo viri imprimis docti et literati conve- 
nirent, docerent, erudirent et instituerent diseipuhs suos, 
in omnium artium foicultatibus, 

Cumque prefatu^ Franciscus Einaston plurima paravit 
Instrumenta Mathematica et Musica, Libros, Codices, Ma- 
nuscripta, Picturas, Imagines cum aliis rebus antiquis, 
raris et exoticis plurimum estimandis et haud mediocris 
valoris, ad pleniorem prefati Hospitii seu Societatis usum 
et omatum spectantibus. 

The Licence goes on to declare that the College 
shall be erected in Covent Garden, in the parish of 
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in the county of Middlesex ; 
that it shall be designated the Musceum Minef^vcBf 


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and that the followiDg six professors shall be attached 
to it : Edmard May^ Doctor of Philosophy and Medi^ 
cine ; Thomas Hunt^ Bachelor of Music ; Nicholas 
Phiske, Professor of Astronomy ; John SpideU, Profes- 
sor of Geometry ; Walter Salter, Professor of Lan- 
guages ; and Michasl Mason, Professor of Fencing. 
The Licence is dated Canbury, June, 26, 1635*^. 

A very curious and scarce tract, entitled The 
Constitutions qf the Mvsoevm Minervce, published in 
1636, gives some further information of this institu- 
tion. It opens thus : — 

'' To the noble and generous well-wishers to ver- 
iuous actions and learning : The Begent and Professours 
of the MuMBvm Minervce wish all honour and happinesse. 

''Howbeit publick actions and undertakings doe 
usually receive no preface, it being needlesse to divulge 
that which of itself will be exposed to all men's cen- 
sures ; nevertheless, new enterprises (how good or just 
soever they be) are commonly subject at least to sus- 
picion, if not unto oblique interpretation; which fre- 
quent experience as well as in other things hath mani- 
fested in this our new institution of an Academy in 
England ; which, though already it hath been justified 
and approved by the wisdomes of the King's most 
sacred Miyestie, confirmed by his M^jestie's Letters 
Patents, and ratified under the hands and scales of the 
Bight Honorable the Lord Keeper of the Great Scale of 
England, and the two Lord Chief Justices. Yet for 
a further and more full satisfaction of all men, as well 
ignorant detractours, as vertuous favorers of this designe, 
fiome remonstrance may not seem impertinent, but 

" The Licence is printed entire in Rymer's FcederOy VoL xix. 
p. 638. 


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rather necessary to be printed and published, for the 
better understanding of what hath been undertaken." 

The objects of the institution are then given, by 
which it appears, as stated in the licence, that the 
instruction of * wealthy gentrie,' as they are styled, 
was the principal design of the founders. They say : 
*^ One great end is to give language and instruction, 
with other ornaments of travel], unto our gentlemen 
before their undertaking any long journeys into for- 
teigne parts. For it is found, by lamentable experience, 
that noblemen and gentlemen; for want of an Academy 
here, are, as it were, necessitated to send their sonnes 
beyond the seas for education: where, through change 
of climate and dyet, they become subject to sick- 
nesses and immature death, than otherwise they might 
have been; we leave it to cafefuU, prudent parents 
to consider how necessary the institution of such an 
Academy in Ix>ndon is, in which special order may 
be taken for the bringing up of young gentlemen ; 
imtill both for yeares and learning they may be fit, as 
well to travell and make benefit of their tyme abroad, 
as to gain some knowledge how to prevent the dangers 
both of forreigne air and dyet." 

The aristocratic tendency of the institution may 
be judged by the first rule : 

^' Every man that shall be admitted into the said 
Musaeum shall bring a testimoniall of his arms and 
gentry, and his coate armour tricked on a table, to be 
conserved in the MusaBum"." 

" The arms of the Academy are annexed to the title-page of 
the ahove tract. They consist of a shield aigent, with two swords 
crossed surmounting an open book, with a satjrr and mermaid for 


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The duties of the Professors are thus allotted : 

The Doctour of Philosophie and !„,.,... 

Phyack shaU leade and professe I -^Wv^S ^natome cr any 
thrae:— j o*^ P'*rl$ of Phyttck. 

The Professonr of Astronomie shall ) AttronomU, Optiek*, Naviffa. 
teach these:-— / iion, Conuogrtiphu. 

The Piofefflour of Geometrie shaU H'^^'"*'^ Analytic^ 
teach theee : — 1 ^^«^ Geometne, Forhjt- 

[ catwn, AreAUeeture. 

TheProfeMOurofMusickshaUteach ( **^ V* Singing, and ntu^ 
th«e ^i- I ^0 play upon — OrgaUy Lute^ 

[ vm, Sfc. 

The Profe«our of Languages shaU f ^f^^^J^^ J^^^^ jj^ 
teach these:- 1 ^*^^ ^^^^ ^f^»^^ ^^^ 

[ Dutch. 

The Professour of Defence ,Y,^i SkUlai aUumponsandterest- 

teach these:— 1 l^^. <^ ^^^^9^ I><^ncing. 

Our lunits forbid enlarging our extracts from this 
curious publication : enough has been given to show 
that an Academy of Sciences was imagined, care 
being taken that the fashionable arts of fencing and 
dancing should go hand in hand with the severer 
studies of astronomy and mathematics. But it must 
be borne in mind, that the College was destined for 
noble youths^ to whom, at that period, a knowledge 
of fencing was of more vital importance than the 
acquisition of the problems of Euclid. The time was 
too unsettled to allow so fair a project to ripen, and 
it is almost needless to state, that Minerva's Museum 
never attained its contemplated greatness. 

About the same period that the above plans were 
brought forward, an academy, designated Die frmhU 


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bringende Geselhchxiifly or, *The Fruitful Society/ was 
established at Weimar*'. 

It was royally patronized, and gave promise of 
advancing literature and science ; the members, how- 
ever, accomplished but little, and the institution 
ceased to exist, with others which subsequently sprung 
up, imitating those of Italy only as regarded the 
adoption of their fanciful titles. "They are gone,'* 
exclaims Bouterwek, " and have left no clear vestige 
of their existence." With the foregoing exceptions, 
Italy seems to have been the principal labourer in 
the great work of mental culture ; for, as Mr. Hallam 
observes, "Neither England, nor France, nor Germany, 
seemed aware of the approaching change*®." Yet, in the 
latter country, an engine had been invented, to which 
literature, art, and science, are more indebted than to 
all the patronage they have received from monarchs 
or princes. Petit-Radel, in his Recherches sur les 
Bibliothdqties Andennes et Modemes, gives an enume- 
ration of the number of books, or editions, published 
in different parts of Europe, from the date of the 
invention of printing to the beginning of the six* 
teenth century. These numbers are: at Venice, 2789; 
Rome, 972 ; Paris, 789 ; Strasburgh, 298 ; Westmin- 
ster, 99 ; London, 31 ; Oxford, 7 ; and Spain and Por- 
tugal, 126. Thus, although printing was invented in 
Germany, we see that Italy, above other European 
nations, was the first country to avail herself of its 
inestimable advantages ^^ 

*" Bouterwek gives 161? as the the date of its foundation. 
*" Europe during the Middle Agee^ Vol. ii. p. 527. 
^* Mr. Hallam, in his Int. to the Lit. of Europe^ gives the titles 
dates, and places of publication of the first editions of the prin- 


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Frince was at length moved to follow the stirring 
example of Italy, and the French Academy was esta- 
blished. This Institution sprang from a "private 
Society of men of letters at Paris, who, about the year 
1629, agreed to meet once a week, to converse on all 
subjects, and especially on literature. Such among them 
as were authors communicated their works, imd had 
the advantage of free and fair criticism. This continued 
for three or four years with such harmony and mutual 
satisfaction, that the old men who remembered this 
period, says their historian, PelissoUj 'looked back 
upon it as a golden age.' They were but nine in 
number, of whom Gombauld and Chapelain are the 
only names by any means famous, and their meetings 
were at first very private. More, by degrees, were 
added: among others, Boisrobert, a favourite of Riche- 
lieu. The Cardinal, pleased with an account of this 
Society, suggested their incorporation. This, it is 
said, was unpleasing to every one of them, and some 
proposed to refuse it ; but the consideration that the 
offers of such a man were not to be slighted, over- 
powered their modesty, and they consented to become 
a royal institution. They now enlarged their numbers, 
created oificers, and began to keep registers of their 
proceedings. These records commence March 13, 
1634. The name of ^ French Academy^ was chosen 
after some deliberation. They were established by 
letters patent in January 1635 ; which the parliament 
of Paris enregistered with great reluctance, requiring, 
not only a letter from Richelieu, but an express order 
from the King; and when this was completed, in 

cipal Greek and Latin authors. These amount to seventy-nine ; no 
fewer than sixty-one of which were printed in Italy. 


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July 1637, it was with a singular proviso, that the 
Academy should meddle with nothing but the embel- 
lishment and improvement of the French language, 
and such books as might be written by themselves, or 
by others who should desire their interference**. The 
professed object of the Academy was to purify the lan- 
guage from vulgar, technical, or ignorant usages, and 
to establish a fixed standard. The Academicians un- 
dertook to guard scrupulously the correctness of their 
own works; examining the arguments, the method, the 
style and the structure, of each particular word. It 
was proposed by one that they should swear not to 
use any word which had been rejected by a plurality of 
votes. They soon began to labour in their vocation, 
always bringing words to the test of good usage, and 
deciding accordingly. These decisions are recorded 
in their registers. Their numbers were fixed by the 
letters patent at forty ; having a director, chancellor, 
and secretary; the two former changed every two, 
afterwards every three, months ; the last was chosen 
for life. They read discourses weekly, which, by the 
titles of some that Pelisson has given us, seem rather 
trifling, and in the style of the Italian Academies : but 
this practice was soon - disused. Their more import- 
ant . and ambitious occupations were to compile a 
dictionary and a grammar. Chapelain drew up the 
scheme of the former, in which it was determined, for 
the sake of brevity, to give no quotations, but to form 
it from about twenty-six good authors in prose, and 
twenty in verse**." 

^ It will bo remembered that the Sarhonne College (founded in 
1255), included the stud^ of the French langua^ as part of the 
foundation of the school of theologjr. The first printing presses in 
Paris were established at this college. 

*■ Hallam, Int. to Lit. of Europe^ Vol. ra. pp. 643—5. 


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Pelisson relates that soon after the formation of 
the Academy, its ability and impartiality were tried 
by Richelieu, who called on the body to pronounce an 
opinion upon the Cid of Comeille, to which work he 
had a strong dislike. At first, the members were 
most unwilling to give any opinion, but, as the Car- 
dinal was not a man to take excuses, a committee 
was eyentually appointed, who prepared a report, which 
was, on the whole, favourable to Gorneille. Mr. Hal- 
lam states that the ^sentimens de I'AcadSmie were 
drawn up with great good sense and dignity." This 
Institution was subsequently incorporated with the 
' Academy of Sciences,' and that of ' Inscriptions and 
y Belles Lettres**.' 

■^ Although France thus early founded a Society for 
the cultivation of literature, yet to England belongs 
the high honour of being the first country, after Italy, 
to establish a Society for the investigation and ad- 
vancement of physical science. "The period was 
arrived when experimental philosophy, to which Bacon 
had held the torch, and which had already made con- 
siderable progress, especially in Italy, was finally esta- 
blished on the ruins of arbitrary figments and partial 

The development and advancement of science are 
signally indebted to three Associations : the Academy 
del Cimento at Florence, which, as we have seen, 
endured but for a short time ; the Royal Society of 
London; and the Academy of Sciences at Paris. 
Laplace has well said : Le principal avantage des 
Acadimies, est Ve^prit philosophique qui doit iy in^ 
troduire^ et de Idse Hpandre dans Urate une nation el 
sur tous les objets. Le savant isoU, pent se livrer sans 

[^ FoaieflfeUe, Vol Y* p. S3. 

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crainte d, V esprit de st/stdme : il n'entend que de loin 
la contradiction quil 6prouve* Mais dans une sodSt^ 
savantey le choc des opinions systimdtiqttes Jinit bientot 
par les ditruire ; et le dSsir de se convaincre mutuel* 
lementy Stablit nScessairement entre les membres, la 
convention de n'admettre que les r^suttats de Vohseroa- 
tion et du caictU. Aussi F experience a-t-elle montrS 
qtie depuis Vorigine des AcadSmieSy la vraie philoso- 
phic s'est gSnSralement rSpandtte, En donnant Fex- 
e^nple de tout soumettre d, Vexamen d^une raisori 
sSvdrey elles ont fait disparaitre les prijug^s qui trop 
long-temps avaient rSgnS dans les scienceSy et que les 
meiUeurs esprits des siedes prScSdens avaient par- 
tagSs. Leur utile injluence sur Fopiniony a dissipi 
des erreurs accueillies de nos jourSy avec un enthovr 
siasme quiy dans d'autres tempSy les aurait perpStu- 
Ses. Egalemmt SloignSes de la crSdtUitS qui fait tout 
admettrey et de la- prevention qui porte d rejeter tout 
ce qui s'icarte des id^es refues ; elles ont toujours sur 
les questions diddles et sur les ph£nom^nes extraor- 
dinaireSy sagement attendu les rSponses de Fobserva- 
tion et de FeafpSrience, en les provoquant par des prix 
et par leurs propres travaux. Mesurant leur estime 
autant d la grandeur et d la diffi^cvM d^une d6cour 
vertey qud son tUilitS immSdiatey et persuad6es par 
beaucoup d'exempleSy que la pltis stSrile en. apparence, 
petU avoir y un joury des suites impoi*tantes ; elles ont 
encourage la rechen^che de la v6rite sur tons les dbjetSy 
rCexduant que ceux quiy par les bournes de Fentende- 
ment humainy lui seront d jamais ina^xessibles. Enjin 
c'est de lev/r sein que se sont ilev^es ces grandes theo- 
ries que leur generality met au-dessus de la portee 
du vulgairey et qui se repandant par de nombremes 
applicationsy sur la nature et sur les artSy sont deve- 
nues d'inepuisables sources de lumiires et de Jouis- 


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sances. Les ffouvememens sages convaincus de rutilitS 
des soeiStSs savantes, et les envisageant comme run des 
principaux fondemeris de la gloire, et de la prospSritS 
des empires, les ant institttSes et placSes pris d'eiuv, 
pour s^edairer de leurs lumUres dont souvent ils ont 
retire de grands atantages^T 

It must appear singular, that early as our English 
Universities were founded, some philosophical asso- 
ciation should not have grown out of them prior 
to those of which we have any record. Oxford, it is 
true, did cultivate mathematics to an extent as re- 
markable for the period, as the present fostering of 
that science by the sister University ; and this in an 
age when the fifth proposition of Euclid was often the 
halting-place of the philosopher. But when we remem- 
ber that all learning was overlaid and encumbered by 
scholastic theology, with its heavy net-work of mystical 
dogmatism, we shall cease to feel surprised that so 
little was done. Had ecclesiastical authority exercised ' 
less sway, we should probably have to go farther for 
the history of our scientific Institution. 

To the Royal Society attaches the renown of hav- 
ing, from its foundation, applied itself with untiring 
zeal and energy to the great objects of its institution ; 
and we now behold it, venerable in years, yet shewing 
no symptom of decay, and regarded with admiration 
and esteem by the civilized world. 

Having now rapidly sketched the rise and progress 
of literary and scientific societies ; we shall, in the 
next chapter, proceed to the immediate object before 
us; the origin and foundation of the Royal Society. 

** Pr^cu de FHiitaire de rAstranomiej p. 


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Origin of Royal Society involved in some obscurity — ^Wallis's Ac- 
count — Oxford Philosopbioa] Society — ^Their Regulations — ^In- 
fluential in promoting Establisliment of Royal Society — ^Hooke's 
Answer to Cassini's Statement respecting the Society — Boyle's 
Account of the Invisible College — Sprat's description of Meet- 
ings at Gresham College — Interruption occasioned by CSvil Wars 
^£vel3m's design for a Philosophical College— Cowle/s Pro- 
position for the establishment of a College— Sir William Pett/s 
Scheme for a Gymnasium Mechanioum, or College of Trades* 
men — Plan of building a Philosophical Institution at Yauxhall 
— ^Domestic troubles postpone the establishment of any Sciai- 
tific or Literary Society^ 


'T^HE origin of the Royal Society, in common with that 
-^ of many other illustrious institutions, is involved 
in some obscurity; for though the year 1660 may be 
regarded as the date of its establishment, yet there is 
no doubt that a society of learned men were in the 
habit of assembling together, to discuss scientific sub- 
jects, for many years previously to the above time. 

In the Publisher's Appendix to his Preface of 
Thomas Hearne's edition of Peter Langtoft's Chro- 
nicle, we find, under the head of " Dr. Wallis's account 
of some passages of his own life," written in January 
1696, 7, the fWlowing interesting extract :- — 

"About the year 1645, while I lived in London, 
(at a time when, by our civil wars, academical studies 
were much interrupted in both our Universities) 
beside the conversation of divers eminent divines, as 
to matters theological, I had the opportunity of being 
acquainted with divers worthy persons, inquisitive 
into natural philosophy, and other parts of human 


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learning ; and particularly of what hath been called 
the Nen> Philosophy, or Eocperimental Philosophy. 
We did by agreements, divers of us, meet weekly in 
London On a certain day, to treat and discourse of 
such affairs ; of which number were Dr. John Wilkins 
(afterward Bishop qf Chester)^ Dr. Jonathan God- 
dard^ Dr. George EnU Dr. Glissony Dr. Merrel (Drs. 
in Physick), Mr. Samuel Foster, then Professor of 
Astronomy at Gresham College, Mr. Theodore Hank\ 
(a German of the Palatinate, and then resident in 
London, who, I think, gave the first occasion, and 
first suggested those meetings), and many others. 

^* These meetings we held sometimes at Dr. God- 
dard^s lodgings in Wood Street (or some conyenient 
place near), on occasion of his keeping an operator 
in his house for grindi|ig ^glasses for telescopes and 
microscopes; sometimes at a convenient place in Cheap^ 
9ide\ and sometimes at Gresham College^ or some 
pla<!e near adjoyning. 

'' Our business was (precluding matters of theology 
and state-affairs), to discourse and consider of Philo- 
sophical Enquiries, and such ^ related thereunto: 
as Physiek, Anatomy, Geometry, Astronomy, Naviga- 
tion^ Staticks, Magneticks, Chymicks, Mechanicks, 
and natural Eooperiments ; with the state of these 
studies, as then cultivated at home and abroad. We 
then discoursed of the drctdation of the blood, the 
Toltes in the veins, the vence lacteoB, the lymphatick 
vessdsy the Copemican hypothesis, Hie nature qf com- 
ets and nen> stars, the satellites qf Jupiter, the oval 

' Doubtless Hook. 

■ The convenient place to which Dr. Wallis refers was the BuU^ 
Head Tavern^ in Cheapside. 


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32 HISTORY OF [1645—50. 

shape (as it then appeared) of Saturn, the spots in the 
suriy and its turning on its own aais, the ineqvMities 
and selenography qf the Moon, the several phases of 
Venm and Mercury, the improvement of telescopes, 
and grinding of glasses for that purpose, the weight 
of air, the possibility, or impossibility qf vacuities, 
and natures abhorrence thereqf, the Torricellian ex- 
periment in quicksilver, the descent of heavy bodies, 
and the degrees of acceleration tJierein ; and divers 
other things of like nature. Some of which were 
then but new discoveries, and others not so generally 
known and imbraced, as now they are, with other 
things appertaining to what hath been called The 
New Philosophy, which from the times of Galileo 
kt Florence, and Sir Francis Bacon (Lord VerulamJ 
in England, hath been much cultivated in Italy, 
France, Germany, and other parts abroad, as well 
as with us in England. 

"About the year 1648, 1649, some of our com- 
pany being removed to Oxford (first Dr. Wilkins\ 
then I, and soon after Dr. Goddard), our company 
divided. Those in ]^ondon continued to meet there 
as before (and we with them, when we had occa- 
sion to be there), and those of us at Oxford ; with 

* Aubrey in his lives of eminent men, states that Wilkins ^^ was 
the principal reviyer of experimental philosophy (secundem mentem 
Domini Baconi) at Oxford, where he had weekely an experimental 
philosophical! clubbe, which began 1649, and was the incunabile of 
the Royall Society. When he came to London, they met at the 
BullVHead Tayem, in Cheapside; e»g. 1659, 1600, and after, till it 
grew too big for a clubbe, and so they came to Gresham Colledge 
parlour." Vol. in. p. 583. And in his Life of Seth Ward, Bishop of 
ScUiibury, he says, '^The beginning of philosophicall experiments 
was at Oxon (1649), by Dr. Wilkins, Seth Ward, Ralph Bathurst, 
&c. Ac." 


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1645 — 50.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 33 

Dr. Ward (since Bishop of Salisbury), Dr. Ralph 
Bathurst (now President of Trinity College in Ox- 
ford), Dr. Petty (since Sir William Petty), Dr. Willis 
(then an eminent physician in Oxford), and divers 
others, continued such meetings in Oxford, and 
brought those studies into fashion there; meeting 
first at Dr. Petty*s lodgings (in an apothecarie's 
house), because of the convenience of inspecting drugs, 
and the like, as there was occasion; and after his 
remove to Ireland (though not so constantly), at the 
lodgings of Dr. Wilkins, then Warden of Wadham 
College, and after his removal to Trinity College 
in Cambridge, at the lodgings of the Honourable Mr. 
Robert \Boyle, then resident for divers years in Ox- 

The original Minutes of the Philosophical Society 
of Oxford are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum. 
At the commencement of the first volume the regu- 
lations are inserted, which will probably be perused 
with considerable interest*. 

"October 23, 1651. Ordered, 
" 1. That no man be admitted, but with the consent of 

the miyor part of the company. 
*' 2. That the votes for admission (to the intent they 

may be free, and without prejudice,) be given in 

secret ; affirmatives by blanks, negatives by printed 

papers put into the box. 
** 3. That every man's admission be concluded the next 

day aft;er it is proposed ; so as at the passing of it 

there be at the least eleven present. 

* The Council of the Bojal Society, on my proposition, ordered 
a copy of these Minutes to be made, for preservation in the archives 
of the Society. 

VOL. I. D 


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34 HISTORY OF [1645 50, 

** 4. That every one pay for his admission an equal share 
to the money in stock, and two-third parts of it 
for the instruments in stock, answerable to the 
number of the Company. 

" 5. If any of the C5ompany (beings resident in the Uni- 
versity) do willingly absent himself from the weekly 
meeting, without speciall occasion, by the space of 
six weeks together, he shall be reputed to have 
left the Company, his name from thenceforth to be 
left out of the catalogue. 

'' 6. That if any man doe not duly upon the day ap- 
poynted perform such exercise, or bring in such 
experiment as shall be appoynted for that day, or 
in case of necessity provide that the course be sup- 
plyed by another, he shall forfeit to the use of the 
company for his default 2$. 64., and shall perform 
his task notwithstanding, within such reasonable 
time as the company shall appoint. 

^ 7. That one man's fault shall not (as formerly) be any 
excuse for him that was to succeed the next day, 
but the course shall goe on. 

** 8. That the time of meeting be every Thursday, before 
two of the clock*.'* 

The Oxford Society was a powerful iEiuxiliary to 
the Royal Society. When occupied at the Ashmolean 
Museum making researches for this work, I examined 
the Minute-books of the former Society, and found that 
frequent mention is made of the Royal Society. It was 
the custom mutually to communicate the principal 
labours of the respective Fellows to each society, by 

' Ashmolean MSS. No. 1810. 


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1645^ — ^50.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 35 

which means science was materially advanced^. Much 
credit is due to the Oxford Society for the pains taken 
to enlist learned bodies in their good cause. In a 
letter to the heads of Universities, they say, "We would 
by no means be thought to slight or undervalue the 
philosophy of Aristotle, which hath for many ages 
obtain^ in the schools. But have (as we ought), a 
great esteem for him» and judge him to have been a 
very great man, and think those who do most slight 
him, to be such as are less acquainted with him. He 
was a great enquirer into the history of nature, but 
we do not think (nor did he think), that he had so 
exhausted the stock of knowledge of that kind as that 
there would be nothing left for the enquiry of after- 
times, as neither can we of this age hope to find out 
so much, but that there will be much left for those 
that come after us^" The letter proceeds earnestly to 
request the assistance of members of colleges, &c., 
towards the great work of advancing scientific know- 
ledge. It would lead us out of our proper path to 
follow the Oxford Society further ; it will be sufficient 
to state, that they met, at irregular intervals, until 
1690, in which year their meetings terminated, much 
to the regret of philosophers^ 

Reverting to the Royal Society, we have some 
further particulars regarding it from Dr. Wallis, in a 
curious and scarce tract, entitled A Dtfence of the 

* By a letter of Dr. WalMs's, in the accfaiY^g of th« Royal Society, 
it appears that such experiments were made at Oxford as could not 
be oonToniently carried on in London. 

7 Ashmolean MSS. 

* Dr. Plot^ in a letter to the Master of Uniyersity College, written 
ia 1094, and preseryed in the Bodleian Library, laments the cessa- 
iioii of the meetings of the Oxford Philosophiod Society. 



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36 HISTORY OP [1645 — 50. 

Royal Society^ an Answer to the Cavils of Dr. William 
Holder, published in 1678. Dr. Holder affirmed that 
"divers ingenious persons in Oxford laid the first 
foundation of the Royal Society." In answer to this. 
Dr. Wallis says, "I take its first ground and foundation 
to have been in London, about the year 1645, if not 
sooner, when Dr. Wilkins, (then chaplain to the Prince 
Elector Palatine, in London) and others, met weekly 
at a certain day and hour, under a certain penalty, 
and a weekly contribution for the charge of experi- 
ments, with certain rules agreed upon amongst us. 
When (to avoid diversion to other discourses, and for 
some other reasons) we barred all discourses of divi- 
nity, of state-afiairs, and of news, other than what 
concerned our business of Philosophy. These meet- 
ings we removed soon after to the Bull Head in 
Cheapside, and in term-time to Gresham College, 
where we met weekly, at Mr. Foster*s lecture (then 
Astronomy Professor there), and, after the lecture 
ended, repaired, sometimes to Mr. Foster's lodgings, 
sometimes to some other place not far distant, 
where we continued such enquiries, and our numbers 

"About the years 1648, 9 some of our company 
were removed to Oxford ; first. Dr. Wilkins, then I, 
and soon after. Dr. Goddard, whereupon our company 
divided. Those at London (and we, when we had 
occasion to be there,) met as before. Those of us at 
Oxford, with Dr. Ward, Dr. Petty, and many others 
of the most inquisitive persons in Oxford, met weekly 
(for some years) at Dr. Petty's lodgings, on the like 
account, to wit, so long as Dr. Petty continued in 
Oxford, and for some while after, because of the con- 
veniences we had there (being the house of an apothe- 


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1645—50.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 37 

cary) to view, and make use of, drugs and other like 
matters, as there was occasion. 

**Our meetings there were very numerous and 
very considerable. For, beside the diligence of per- 
sons studiously inquisitive, the novelty of the design 
made many to resort thither ; who, when it ceased to 
be new, began to grow more remiss, or did pursue 
such inquiries at home. We did afterwards (Dr. Petty 
being gone for Ireland, and our numbers growing less) 
remove thence ; and (some years before His Majesty*s 
return) did meet at Dr. Wilkins's lodgings in Wad- 
ham College. In the meanwhile, our company at 
Gresham College being much again increased, by the 
accession of divers eminent and noble persons, upon 
His Majesty's return, we were (about the beginning * 
of the year 1662) by his Majesty's grace and favour, 
incorporated by the name of the Royal Society V' &c. 

Hooke, in his Ansn^er to some Particular Claims 
qfM. Cassini, states that he, "M. Cassini, is in error 
concerning the beginning and original of the Royal 
Society. Concerning which he might have been much 
better informed if he had taken notice of what has 
been said concerning it, but that, it seems, did not suit 
so well to his design of making the French to be the 
first. He makes Mr. Oldenburg to have been the 
instrument who inspired the English with a desire to 
imitate the French, in having philosophical dubs, or 
meetings, and that this was the occasion of founding 
the Royal Society, and making the French the first. 
I will not say that Mr. Oldenburg did rather inspire 
the French to follow the English, or, at least, did help 
them, and hinder us. But it is well known who were 

• p. 8. 


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38 HISTORY OF [1645 — 50. 

the principal men that began and promoted that 
design, both in London and Oxford; and that a long 
while before Mr. Oldenburg came into England. And 
not only these philosophical meetings were before Mr. 
Oldenburg came from Paris; but the Society itself 
was begun before he catne hither; and those who then 
knew Mr. Oldenburg, understood well enough how 
little he himself knew of philosophick matters ^V 

In the life of the Hon. Robert Boyle, prefixed to 
his Works, are some letters in which that eminent 
philosopher" alludes to the Royal Society before its 
incorporation, under the title of the Invisible College. 
In a communication to Mr. Marcombes, dated Lon- 
don, October 22, 1646, he says : 

" The other humane studies I apply myself to are 
natural philosophy, the mechanics, and husbandry, 
according to the principles of our new philosophical 
college, that values no knowledge but as it has a ten- 
dency to use. And therefore I shall make it one of 
my suits to you, that you would take the pains to 

inquire a little more thoroughly into the ways of hus- 

I I ■■ t » ■ ■ I <> 

'• PAt/.i?J5wr.p.388. 

" It is worthy of record, that Boyle entertained a plan of jiving 
12,000/. to purchase confiscated lands in Ireland ; the profits from 
which were to be devoted to the promotion of knowledge. It 
appears that there was some prospect of this scheme b^ng carried 
into execution, as Oldenburg thus alludes to it in a letter to Boyle, 
written at Saumur in 1657 : ^' I am hugely pleased that the Coun- 
cil has granted your desires for the promotion of knowledge, which 
1 suppose to be those that were couched in a certain petition you 
were pleased to impart to me at Oxford ; wherein, if I remember 
well, a matter of twelve thousand pounds sterling was ofkmd to 
purchase confiscated lands and houses within Ireland, to employ the 
profits in the entertainment of an agents secretary, translators, for 
keeping intelligence, distributing rewards, &c., in order to the end 


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16*5 — ^50.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 39 

bandry, &c. practised in your parts ; and when you 
intend for England, to bring along with you what 
good receipts or choice books of any of these subjects 
you can procure; which will make you extremely 
welcome to our Invisible CoKlege^' And in a letter 
to Mr. Francis Tallents, Fellow of Magdalen College, 
Cambridge, dated London, February 1646-7, he says, 
•*The best on't is, that the comer-stones of the inti^ 
HUe, (or, as they term themselves, the philosophical 
eoU^,) do now and then honour me with their com* 
pany, which makes me as sorry for those pressing 
occasions that urge my departure, as I am at other 
times angry with that solicitous idleness, that I am 
necessitated to, during my stay : men of so capacious 
and searching spirits, that the school-philosophy is 
but the lowest region of their knowledge ; and yet, 
though ambitious to lead the way to any generous 
design, of so humble and teachable a genius, as they 
disdain not to be directed to the meanest, so he can 
plead reason for his opinion ; persons that endeavour 
to put narrow-mindedness out of countenance, by the 
practice of so extensive a charity that it reaches unto 
every thing called man, and nothing less than an 
universal goodwill can content it. And, indeed, they 
are so apprehensive of the want of good employment, 
that they take the whole body of mankind for their 
care. But, lest my seeming hyperbolical expressions 
should more prejudice my reputation than it is in any 
way able to advantage theirs, and I be thought a liar 
for telling so much truth, I will conclude their praises 
with the recital of their chiefest fault, which is very 
incident to almost all good things ; and that is, that 
there is not enough of them." 

In May, 1647, Boyle again alludes to the Invisible 


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40 HISTORY OF [1645 — 50. 

CoUsge, in a letter to Hartlib, which leaves little doubt 
that he meant by this title that assembly of-leariied 
^and high-minded men, who sought, by a diligent 
examination of natural science, which was then called 
the Nero Philosophy^ an alleviation from the harrow- 
A ing scenes incidental to the civil wars. 

'' For such a candid and impassionate Company as 
that was^" says Dr. Sprat, in his History qfthe Royal 
Society, ^'and for such a gloomy season, what coiild 
have been a fitter subject to pitch upon than Natural 
Philosophy f To have been always tossing about 
some theological question, would have been to have 
made that their private diversion, the excess of which 
they themselves disliked in the publick ; to have been 
eternally musing on civil bttsiness, and the distresses 
of their country, was too melancholy a reflection : it 
was nature alone which could pleasantly entertain 
them in that estate. — Their meetings were as frequent 
as their afiairs permitted : their proceedings rather by 
actio^n than discourse, chiefly attending some particu- . 
lar trials in Chymistry or Mechanicks: they had no 
rules nor method fixed : their intention was more to 
communicate to each other their discoveries, which 
they could make in so narrow . a compass, than an 
united, constant, or regular inquisition. Thus they 
continued, without any great intermissions, till about 
the year 1658. But those being called away to several 
parts of the nation, and the greatest number of them 
coming to London, they usually met at Gresham Col- 
lege, at the Wednesday's and Thursday's lectures of 
Dr. Wren and Mr. Rooke^'; where there joyn'd with 

" Ward, in his Life of Booksy says, that "he was Tery zealous 
and serviceable in promoting the great and useful institution of the 


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1645 — ^50.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 41 

them several eminent persons of their common 
acquaintance: The Lord Viscount Brouncker^ the 
now Lord Breretonj Sir Paul Neily Mr. John Eve- 
lyuy Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Slingshy^ Dr. Timothy Clarke 
Dr. Enty Mr. Ball, Mr. Jffilly Dr. Crone, and divers 
other gentlemen, whose inclinations lay the same 
way. This custom was observed once, if not twice a* 
week, in term-time; till they were scattered by the 
miserable distractions of that fatal year ; till the con- 
tinuance of their meetings there might have made 
them run the hazard of the fate oi Archimedes : for then 
the place of their meeting was made a quarter for 

" This day," says the author of the foregoing ex- 
tract, in a letter to Mr. Wren, written in 1658, 
and published in the Parentaliay or Memoirs of the 
Times qf Bishop Wren, 1668, " I went to visit Gresham 
College, but found the place in such a nasty condition, 
so defiled, and the smells so infernal, that if you should 
now come to make use of your tube, it would be like 
Dives looking out of hell into heaven. Dr. Groddard, 
of all your colleagues, keeps possession, which he 
could never be able to do, had he not before prepared 
his nose for camp-perfumes by his voyage into Scot- 
land, and had he not such excellent restoratives in 
his cellar. The soldiers, by their violence which they 

Royal Society." Dr. Ward, Bishop of Exeter, was much attached 
to him ; he gave the Society, in memory of his friend, a krge pen- 
dnlnm dock, made by Fromantel, then esteemed a great rarity, 
whidi was set up in the room where they met in Gresham College, 
and afterwards placed in the outer hall of their house at Crane 
Court. An inscription" to the memory of Rooke was engraved on 
the dial-pkte. Rooke was elected Gresham Professor of Astronomy 
in 1652, which he resigned in 1657 for the Chair of Geometry. 


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42 HISTORY OP [1645—50. 

put on the Muses' seats, have made themselves odious 
to all the ingenious world ; and if* we pass by their 
having undone the nation, this crime we shall be never 
able to forgive them." 

And Matthew Wren, in a letter to Christopher 
Wren, dated Oct. 25, 1658, also published in the 
ParentaUa^ says, ** Yesterday, being the first day of 
term, I resolv'd to make an experiment whether Dr. 
Uorton entertained the new auditorjr of Gresham with 
any lecture; for I took it for granted, that if his divi- 
nity could be spar'd, your mathematicks would not 
be expected. But at the gate I was stop'd by a 
man with a gun, who told me there was no admission 
upon that account, the College being reformed into a 

Although the distracted state of the times pre- 
vented a continuance of the scientific meetings at 
Gresham College, the philosophers did not abandon 
their cause in despair. 

In 1659, the philanthropic Evelyn addressed a 
letter to the Hon. Robert Boyle, containing his plan 
for the institution of a Scientific College. In his diary, 
under the date Sept. 1, 1659, he writes, ^I commu- 

" Dr. Birch states that Gresham College could not have been 
occupied by soldiers until 1659, and adduces in proof the letter of 
Matthew Wren, quoted above, written in 1659, and not, as its date 
affirms, on Oct. 25, 1658. Although 1659 may justly be denomi« 
nated the year of dittractumB^ yet there is no reason to suppose 
that the evidence of Dr. Sprat and Mr. Wren, as to the occupancy 
of Qreshatn College by troops in 1658, and the consequent dispossess 
sion of the professors and other scientific men, is erroneous ; indeed, 
it is distinctly stated in the MS. of the Parmtalia^ which is in 
the Library of the Royal Society, that ''in 1658 the College was 
garrisoned by the rebels, and the professors driven out" 


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1645 — 50.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 43 

nicated to Mr, Robert Boyle my proposal for erect- 
ing a Philosophic-mathematic College." 

The letter, which is published in Boyle's Works, 
is so interesting as characteristic of the times, and so 
strikingly illustrative of the desire on the part of the 
learned men of that day to establish an institution 
fbr the investigation and cultivation of Science^ that 
an account of the rise of the Royal Society would be 
incomplete without it. It is dated Say's Court, Sept. 
3, 1659. 

*'NoBLB Sir, 

" Together with these testimonies of my 
cheerful obedience to your commands, and a faithful 
promise of transmitting the rest, if yet there remain 
anything worthy your acceptance amongst my unpolished 
and scattered collections, I do hereby make bold to 
trouble you with a more minute discovery of the design, 
which I casually mentioned to you, concerning my great 
inclination to redeem the remainder of my time, con- 
sidering qwim parum mihi gupersU ad metcu; so as may 
best improve it to the glory of God Almighty, and the 
benefit of others. And since it has proved impossible 
for me to attain to it hitherto (though in this my private 
and mean station), by reason of that fond morigeration 
to the mistaken customs of the age, which not only rob 
men of their time, but extremely of their virtue and best 
advantages ; I have established with myself, that it is 
not to be hoped for without some resolution of quitting 
these incumbrances, and instituting such a manner of 
life for the future as may best conduce to a design so 
much breathed after and, I think, so advantageous. In 
order to this, I propound that since we are not to hope 
for a mathematical college, much less a BolomovCs house, 
hardly a friend in this sad catalysis, and inter hos armarum 


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44 HISTORY OP [1645 — 50. 

strqHius, a period so uncharitable and perverse, why- 
might not some gentlemen, whose geniuses are greatly 
suitable, and who desire nothing more than to give a 
good example, preserve science, and cultivate them- 
selves, join together in society, and resolve upon some 
orders and economy to be mutually observed, such as 
shall best become the end of their union, if I cannot 
say without a kind of singularity, because the thing is 
new ; yet such, at least, as shall be free from pedantry, 
and all affectation? The possibility, Sir, of this is so 
obvious, that I confess were I not an aggregate person, 
and so obliged, as well by my own nature, as the laws of 
decency and their merits, to provide for my dependents, 
I would cheerfully devote my small fortune towards it, 
by which I might hope to assemble some small number 
together, who might resign themselves to live profitably 
and sweetly together. But since I am unworthy so great 
a happiness, and that it is not now in my power, I pro- 
pose that if any one worthy person, and gueU mdiore lutOy 
so qualified as Mr. Boyle, will join in the design (for not 
with every one, rich, and learned, there are very few 
disposed, and it is the greatest difiiculty to find the 
man), we would not doubt in a short time (by God's 
assistance) to be possessed of the most blessed life that 
tirtuous persons could wish or aspire to in this miserable 
and uncertain pilgrimage, whether considered as to the 
present revolutions, or what may happen for the future 
in all human probability. Now, Sir, in what instances, 
and how far this is practicable, permit me to give you 
an account of, by the calculations which I have deduced 
for our little foundation. 

" I propose the purchasing of thirty or forty acres of 
land, in some healthy place, not above twenty-five miles 
from London, of which a good part should be tall woodi 


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1645 — 50,] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 45 

and the rest upland pastures, or downs, sweetly irrigated. 
If there were not already an house, which might be 
converted, &e., we would erect upon the most convenient 
site of this, near the wood, our building, viz. one hand- 
some pavilion, containing a refectory, library, withdraw- 
ing-room, and a closet; this the first story; for we suppose 
the kitchen, larders, cellars and ofiices, to be contrived 
in the half story under ground. In the second should 
be a fair lodging-<;harober, a pallet-room, gallery, and a 
closet ; all which should be well and very nobly furnished, 
for any worthy person that might desire to stay any 
time, and for the reputation of the College. The half 
story above for servants, wardrobes, and like conveni- 
ences. To the entry forefront of this a court, and at 
the other backfront a plot walled in of a competent 
square, for the common seraglio, disposed into a garden ; 
or it might be only carpet^ kept curiously, and to serve 
for bowls, walking, or other recreations, &c.; if the com- 
pany please. Opposite to the house, towards the wood, 
should be erected a pretty chapel; and at equal dis- 
tances (even with the flanking walls of the square), six 
apartments or cells, for the members of the Society, and 
not contiguous to the pavilion, each whereof should 
contain a small bed-chamber, an outward room, a closet, 
and a private garden, somewhat after the manner of the 
Carthusians. There should likewise be an elaboratory 
with a repository for rarities and things of nature, aviary, 
dove-house, physick-garden, kitchen-garden, and a plan- 
tation of orchard-fruit, &c. ; all uniform buildings, but 
of single stories, or a little elevated. At convenient 
distance towards the olitory-garden should be a stable 
for two or three horses, and a lodging for a servant or 
two. Lastly, a garden-house and conservatory for ten- 
der plants. 


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46 HISTORY OF [l645 — ^50. 

''The estimate amounts thus. The pavilion 400;.» 
chapel 150/., apartments, walls, and out-housing 6001. 
The purchase of the fee for thirty acres, at 151. per acre, 
eighteen years' purchase, 400/. The total 1550;. ; 1600/. 
will be the utmost. 

" Three of the cells or apartments, that is one moiety, 
with the appurtenances, shall be at the disposal of one of 
the founders, and the other half at the others. 

" If I and my wife take up two apartments (for we 
are to be decently asunder ; however I stipulate, and her 
inclination wiU greatly suit with it, that shall be no im- 
pediment to the Society, but a considerable advantage 
to the ceconomick part), a third shall be for some worthy 
person ; and to facilitate the rest, I offer to furnish the 
whole pavilion completely, to the value of 500/. in goods 
and moveables, if need be for seven years, till there be 
a publick stock, &c. 

" There shall be maintained at the publick charge, 
only a Chaidain, well qualified, an ancient woman to 
dress the meat, wash, and do aU such offices ; a man to 
buy provisions, keep the garden, horses, &c.; a boy to 
assist him and serve within. 

''At one meal a-day of two dishes only, (unless some 
little extraordinary upon particular days, or occasions, 
then never exceeding three) of plain and wholesome 
meat; a smaU refection at night: wine, beer, sugar, 
spice, bread, fish, fowl, candle, soap, oats, hay, fuel, &c«, 
at 4/. per week, 200/. per annum ; wages 15/. ; keeping 
the gardens 20/. ; the chaplain 20/. per anniun. Laid 
up in the treasury yearly 145/.« to be employed for 
books, instruments, drugs, trials, &c. The total 400/. a- 
year, comprehending the keeping of two horses for the 
chariot or the saddle, and two kine ; so that 200/. per 
annum will be the utmost that the founders shall be at 


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1645 — 30.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 47 

to maintain tbe whole Sooiety, consisting of nine per«- 
8008 (the servants included), though there should no 
others join capable to aUeviate the expense : but if any 
of those who desire to be of the Society be so quaJified 
as to support their own particulars, and allow for their 
proportion* it will yet much diminish the charge ; and 
of such there cannot want some at all times, as the 
apartments are empty. 

''If either of the founders thinks expedient to alter 
hia condition, or that any thing do hwmamtm cmtingm^ 
he may resign to another, or seU to his colleague, and 
dispose of it ad he pleases ; yet so as it still continue the 

" Orders. 

^At six in summer, prayers in the chapel. To study 
tin half an hour after eleven. Dinner in the refectory till 
one. Betire till fomr. Then called to conversation (if 
the weather invite) abroad, else in the refectory. This 
never omitted, but in case of sickness. 

'* Prayers at seven. To bed at nine. In the winter 
the same, with some abatements for the hours, because 
the nights are tedious and the evenings' conversation 
more agreeable. This in the refectory. All play inter- 
dicted, sans bowls, chess, &c. Every one to cultivate 
his own garden. One month in spring a course in 
the elaboratory on vegetables, &c. In the winter a 
month on other experiments. Every man to have a 
key of the elaboratory, pavilion, library, repository, &c. 
Weekfy fast ; Communion once every fortnight, or month 
at least. No stranger easily admitted to visit any of 
the Society, but upon certain days weekly, and that 
only after dinner. Any of the Society may have his 
commons to his apartment, if he will not meet in the 


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48 HISTORY OF [1645 — 50. 

refectory, so it be not above twice a-week. Every 
Thursday shall be a musick meeting at conversation 
hours. Every person of the Society shall render some 
publick account of his studies weekly, if thought fit ; and 
especially shall be recommended the promotion of ex- 
perimental knowledge, as the principal end of the 
institution. There shall be a decent habit and uniform 
used in the college. One month in the year may be 
spent in London, or any of the Universities, or in a 
perambulation for the publick benefit, &c. ; with what 
other orders shall be thought convenient, &c, 

'' Thus, Sir, I have in haste (but, to your loss, not in 
a laconic stile) presmned to communicate to you (and 
truly, in my life, never to any but yourself) that project 
which for some time has traversed my thoughts ; and 
therefore, far from being the efiect either of an imper- 
tinent or trifling spirit, but the result of mature and 
frequent reasonings. And, Sir, is not this the same 
that many noble personages did, at the confusion of 
the empire by the barbarous Goths, when St. Hierome, 
Eustochium, and others, retired from the pertinencies of 
the world to the sweet recesses and societies in the East, 
till it came to be burthened with the vows and super- 
stitions, which can give no scandal to our design, that 
provides against all such snares ? 

" Now to assure you. Sir, how pure and unmixed the 
design is from any other than the publick interest, pro- 
pounded by me, and to redeem the time to the noblest 
purposes, I am thankfully to acknowledge, that as to 
the common forms of living in the world, I have little 
reason to be displeased at my present condition, in 
which, I bless God, I want nothing conducing either to 
health or honest diversion extremely beyond my merit ; 
and therefore would I be somewhat choice and scni-^ 


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1645 — 50.] THE JIOYAL SOCIETY. 49 

pulous in my coUegue ; because he is to be the most 
dear person to me in the world. But oh ! how. I should 
think it designed from heaven, and ianquam numen Sioirertj^, 
did such a person as Mr. Boyle, who is alone a society 
of all that were desirable to a consummate felicity, 
esteem it a design worthy his embracing ! Upon such 
an occasion how would I prostitute all my other con- 
cernments I how would I exult I and, as I am, continue 
upon infinite accumulations and regards. 

** Sir, his most humble, and 

most obedient servant, 
''If my health permit me the honour to pay my 
respects to you, before you leave the town, it will 
bring you a rude plot of the building, which will better 
fix the idea, and shew what symmetry it holds with this 

Liberal as were the proposals contained in this 
letter from the noble-minded Evelyn, they were not 
responded to, though in all probability, they had some 
effect in hastening the establishment of the Royal 
Society. The times were however so distracted, that 
it could hardly be expected that men whose lives were 
in daily peril, would bestow much time or thought on 
science; and thus, Evelyn's scheme met with no other 
encouragement than that of being carefully treasured 
amongst Boyle's papers. 

Cowley's Proposition for the Advancement of 
Experimental Philosophy, was first published at 
about the same date as Evelyn's letter. This is a 
most curious document, but, unfortunately, of such a 
length as to preclude its entire insertion here. Its 
principal points are : 

VOL. I. E 


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60 HISTOBY OF [1645 50. 

1. ^'That the Philosophical CoUedge be situated with- 

in pne» two, or (at farthest) three miles of Lon- 
don, and, if it be possible, to find that conveni- 
ence upon the side of the river, or very near. it. 

2. "That the revenue amount to £4000 a year, 

3. "That the company consist of; — ^twenty philosophers 

or professors; sixteen young scholars, servants 
to the professors ; a chaplain ; a baily for the 
revenue; a manciple for the provisions of the 
house ; two gardeners ; a master-cook ; an under 
cook ; a butler ; an under-butler ; a chirurgeon ; 
two lungs, or chymical servants ; a library-keeper, 
who is likewise to be apothecary, druggist, and 
keeper of instruments, engines, &c. ; an officer 
to feed and take care of all beasts, fowl, &c. ; 
a groOTd of the stable ; a messenger ; four old 
women to tend the chambers. 

4. "That the salaries of the above professors and offi- 

cers amount to £3285 per annum, leaving £715 
for keeping up the CoUedge and grounds. That 
the CoUedge be buUt to consist of three fair 
quadrangular courts, and three large grounds 
with gardens, just after the manner of the Char- 
treux beyond sea." 

The author then enters into details respecting the 
uses of the various apartments, and recommends that 
out of the twenty professors, sixteen shaU be always 
resident, and four travelling in the four quarters of 
the world, in order that they may " give a constant 
account of all things that belong to the learning, and 
especially Natural Exp^imental PhUosophy, of those 
parts." A section is devoted to the duties of aU the 
Officers, and another to the school, which was to con* 


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1645 — 50.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 51 

tain two hundred boys, who were to be educated ^' by 
a method for the infusing knowledge and language at 
the same time into them/' In his conclusion he says, 
*' If I be not much abused by a natural fondness to 
my own conceptions, there was never any project 
thought upon which deserves to meet with so few 
adversaries as this ; for the GoUedge will weigh, ex- 
amine, and prove all things of nature, delivered to us 
by former ages, and detect, explode, and strike a cen- 
sure through all false moneys, with which the world 
has been paid and cheated so long, and (as I may say) 
set the mark of the Colledge upon all true coins, that 
they may pass hereafter without any farther tryal 
Se<x>ndly, it will recover the lost inventions, and, as 
it were, drown'd lands of the ancients. Thirdly, it / 
will improve all arts which we now have, and lastly, 
dbcover others which we yet have not'V 

Sprat says that Cowley's proposition, though not 
carried out, yet tended to accelerate the foundation of 
the Royal Society. It certainly drew the attention of 
the learned to the necessity of having some institu- 
tion, in which science might be investigated in an 
unprejudiced manner, and where the absurd and fatal 
errors concerning philosophy might be permanently 

Amongst the schemes to establish a scientific aca- 
demy or college, that of the ingenious Sir William 
Petty must not be overlooked. It is entitled. Advice 
to Mr. Samuel Hartlib, for the advancement of some 

" For the whole of Cowley's plan, see hU Works, fol. London, 
1668- Cowley subsequently wrote an Ode in praise of the Royal 
Society, quoted in another chapter. 



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62 * HISTORY OF [l645 — 50. 

particular parts of learning^ and was published in 
1648. The leading features are: the establishment^ 
in the first place, of a Gymnasium Meehanieum, 
or College of Tradesmen; where able mechanics, 
being elected Fellows, might reside, rent free. The 
labours and experiments of these mechanics, Sir W. 
Petty conceived, would be of great value ** to active 
and philosophical heads, out of which to extract that 
interpretation of nature whereof there is so little, 
and that so bad, yet extant in the world." Within 
the Gymnasium he proposed to build a Noscomium 
Academicum^ a Theatrum Botanicum, an Observa- 
tory, Menagerie, &c.; in short, that an Institution 
or Academy should be founded, whose members 
*' would be as careful to advance arts, as the Jesuits 
are to propagate their religion." He further recom- 
mended that a work should be compiled, to be 
entitled Vellt^ Aureuviy sive Facultatum ItLcifera" 
rum descriptio magnay in which *' all practised ways 
of subsistence, and whereby men raise their fortunes, 
may be at large declared. There would not then 
be," he adds, "so many unwoTthy fustian preach- 
ers in divinity; in the law so many pettyfoggers ; in 
physic so many quackscUvers, and in country schools 
so mznj grammatica^tei^s.'' It is worthy of remark, 
that in this scheme Sir W. Petty recommends wri- 
tings to be multiplied by means of an instrument 
which he invented, and for which Parliament granted 
him a patent for seventeen years. He called it his 
art of double writing, and described the instrument 
as being of ''small bulk and price, easily made, and 
very durable." This is the prototype of the " mani- 
fold letter-writer" of modem times, which has merely 


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1645 — 50.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY, 53 

accomplished what Sir William Petty effected in 

Concmrently with these contemplated plans for 
building philosophical institutions, another scheme 
was entertained to establish an institution at Yaux- 
hall, for the advancement of science. ^ 

In a curious letter from Hartlib to Boyle, dated 
Amsterdam, May 18, 1649, and preserved in the ar- 
<^ves of the Society, is the following Memorandum : 
'' Fauxhall is to be sett apart for publick uses, by 
which is meant making it a place of resort for artists, 
mechanicks^ &c., and a d^p6t for models and philo- 
sophicall apparatus." It is further proposed, that 
^experiments and trials of profitable inventions 
should be carried on," which, says the writer, " will 
he of great use to the Commonwealth." 

Hartlib adds, that the late King (Charles I.) '' de- 
signed Fauxhall for such an use." 

In another letter to Boyle, dated May 1654, 
Hartlib" says, "The Earl of Worcester is buying 
Fauxhall from Mr. Trenchard, to bestow the use of 
that house upon Caspar Calehof and his son, as long 
as they shall live, for he intends to make it a College 
of Artisans- Yesterday," he adds, " I was invited 
by the famous Thomas Bushel to Lambeth Marsh, to 
see part of that foundation." 

The attention of Parliament was called to the 
state of learning at this period, bs appears from the 

** For a full acconnt of this invention, see Ward's Lives of the 
Gretiham ProfeaarSy p. 218. 

»• Evelyn states that " Hartlib was a pnblic-spirited and inge- 
nious person, honest and learned, and has propagated many useful 
things and arts." Milton's Tractate of Education is addressed to 


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Journals of the House of Commons, which record that 
on the 20th July 1653, a committee was appointed 
'^ for the advancement of learning^'," which consisted 
of eighteen members. They met in the Duchy Cham- 
ber, but did not present any Report^. 

The unsettled state of public affairs presented, as 
before observed, an insurmountable obstacle to the 
establishment of any permanent institution for philo- 
sophical purposes. ^' The progress of all the sciences/' 
writes Dr. Whewell, alluding to this period, " became 
languid for a while ; and one reason of this interrup- 
tion was, the wars and troubles which prevailed over 
almost the whole of Europe. The baser spirits were 
brutalized; the better were occupied by high practical 
aims and struggles of their moral nature. Amid such 
storms the intellectual powers of man could not work 
with their due calmness, nor his intellectual objects 
shine with their proper lustre".'* 

*' Vol. VII. p. 288. 

" The establishment of a large public Libtaiy in St. James's 
Park was also thought of. 

»• Mia. Ind. JSks., VoL in. p. 327. 


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The Restoration fovourable to the establishment of a Philosophical 
Society — Burnet's Account of the Founders of the Royal So« 
cicty — ^Bacon's Philosophy — His Imtauraium of the Seience»'~' 
NewAtalantu — High opinion entertained of him by the eminent 
early Fellows of the Society— First Official Record of Royal 
Society — ^Rnles and Regulations — Original Members — ^Design of 
the Society approTod by Charles II. — Experiments proposed— 
Reporters of Experiments— Manner of conducting Election^-* 
Officers and Servants of the Society— Meetings contemplated 
at the College of Physicians. 


As the last and darkest thunder-cloud is often suc- 
ceeded hy calm and sunshine, so was the '* fatal 
year 1659 " followed by the " wonderful pacifick year 
1660 ** — a year standing prominently forth in the page 
of English history, as that of the Restoration of the 
house of Stuart after a series of civil wars which 
extended over a period of twenty years. "Then," 
says Dr. Sprat, " did these gentlemen (alluding to the 
philosophers who had been in the habit of meeting in 
Gresham CJollege), finding the hearts of their country- 
men inlarg'd by their joys, and fitted for any noble 
proposition; and meeting with the concurrence of 
many worthy men, who, to their immortal honour, 
had followed the king in his banishment, Mr. Erskins, 
Sir Robert Moray, Sir Gilbert TaJboU &c., began 
now to imagine some greater thing ; and to bring out 
experimental knowledge fi'om the retreats in which 
it had long hid itself^ to take its part in the triumphs 
of that universal jubilee. And, indeed, philosophy 


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66 HISTORY OF [1655 — 60. 

did very well, deserve that reward; having always 
been loyal in the worst of times; for though the 
king's enemies had gained all other advantages, though 
they had all the garrisons, and fleets, and ammu- 
nitions, and treasures, and armies, on their side, yet 
they could never, by all their victories, bring over the 
reason of men to their party \" 

*' The men that formed the Royal Society," says 
Bishop Burnet, "were Sir Robert Moray, Lord 
Brouncker, a profound mathematician, and Dr. Ward. 
Ward was a man of great search, went deep in mathe- 
matical studies, and was a very dexterous man, if not 
too dexterous ; for his sincerity was much questioned. 
Many physicians and other ingenious men went into 
the Society for natural philosophy. But he who 
laboured most, at the greatest charge, and with the 
most success at experiments, was the Hon. Robert 
Boyle. He was a very devout Christian, humble, 
and modest almost to a fault, of a most spotless and 
exemplary life in all respects. The Society for phi- 
losophy grew so considerably, that they thought fit to 
take out a patent, which constituted them a body, by 
the name of the Royal Society'." 

The year of the Restoration was peculiarly favour- 
able to the establishment of a scientific society, and 
the study and investigation of science. During a long 
period, the country had been torn by political revolu- 
tions, which, after the death of Cromwell, threatened 
to end in complete anarchy, when the Restoration, 
though far from realising all that was expected,reUeved 

^ Dr. Johnson observes : *' It has been suggested that the Royal 
Society was instituted soon after the Restoration, to direct the atten- 
tion of the people from pnbHc discontent." Works, Vol. x. p. 86. 

• Hi9t. Oum Time$, Vol. i. p. 192. 


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1655 — 60.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 57 

men's minds from the pressure of political matters, and 
left them more at liberty for other pursuits'. 

"There arose at this time," says Dr. Whewell, 
alluding to the period antecedent to the epoch of 
Newton, "a group of philosophers, who began to 
knock at the door where truth was to be found, 
although it was left for Newton to force it open. 
These were the founders of the Royal Society*." We 
can readily suppose these men adopting the language 
in which Cicero addresses philosophy: ad te con/a- 
gimus ; a te opem petimtis ; tibi nos^ ut antea mdgnd 
ex parte^ sic nunc penitus totosqus tradimtcs\" But 
it must not be forgotten how much is due to Lord 
Bacon, who died only thirty-six years before the incor- 
poration of the Royal Society. With a comprehensive 
and commanding mind, patient in inquiry, subtile in 
discrimination, neither affecting novelty, nor idolizing 
antiquity. Bacon formed, and in a great measure exe* 
cuted^ his great work, on the Instauration of the 
Sciences^ which being clearly connected in its main 
features with the Royal Society, connects itself with 
our inquiry. The design was divided into six capital 
divisions. The first proposes a general survey of 
human knowledge, and is executed in the admirable - 
treatise, The Advancement of Learning. In this Lord 
Bacon critically examines the state of learning in its 
various branches at that period, observes and points 
out defects and errors, and then suggests proper means 
for supplying omissions and rectifying mistakes. 

The second, and the most considerable part, is the 
Novum Organumj in which the author, rejecting syl- 
logism as a mere instrument of disputation, and 

■ Sprat's J?«<., p. 58. * Hut.Ind.Sc%.\o\.ii.ii^.lA5. * Tuic.Diip. 

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58 HISTOHY OF [1655^-60. 

putting no trust in the hypothetical systems of ancient 
philosophy, recommends the more slow but more satis- 
£a,ctory method of induction, which su1:]jects natural 
objects to the test of observation and experience, and 
subdues nature by experiment and inquiry. 

It will be seen how rigidly the early Fellows of 
the Royal Society followed Bacon's advice. 

The third part of the work is the Sylva Sylvarwn^ 
or history of nature, which furnishes materials for a 
natural and experimental history, embracing all the 
phenomena of the universe. 

The fourth part, or Scala Intellectus, sets forth the 
steps or gradations by which the understanding may 
regularly ascend in philosophical inquiries; and is 
evidently intended as a particular application and 
illustration of the author's method of philosophizing. 

The fifth part, or Anticipationes Pkilosophim 
SecundcB, was designed to contain philosophical hints 
and suggestions ; but nothing of this remains except 
the title and scheme. 

The sixth portion was intended to exhibit the uni- 
versal principles of natural knowledge deduced from 
experiments, in a regular and complete system ; but 
this the author despaired of being himself able to 
accomplish. Having laid the foundation of a grand 
and noble edifice, he left the superstructure to be com- 
pleted by the labours of ftiture philosophers. 

Indeed, he tells us, ^ I have done enough, if I have 
constructed the machine itself and the fabric, though 
I may not have employed, or moved it*.** No writer 
seems ever to have felt more deeply than Bacon, that 
he properly belonged to a later and more enlightened 

• Interpretation of Nature, "Works, Vol. xv. p. 105. 

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1655 Go.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 69 

age ; a sentiment which he has touchingly ex{H*essed 
in that clause of his testament where he '^ bequeaths 
Ihs name to posterity, after some time be past over." 

It is, however, in his N&w Mentis that we have 
the plan of such an institution as the Royal Society 
more distinctly set forth. 

Describing this imaginary establishment, he says, 
'^The end of our foundation is the knowledge of 
causes, and secret motions of thii^s; and the enkurging 
of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all 
things possible. The pr^arations and instruments 
are — ^large and deep caves for coagulations, indura- 
tions, refrigerations, and conservation of bodies, — 
high towers for meteorological phenomena; great 
lakes, both salt and fresh, whereof we have use for the 
fi^ and fowl; violent streams and cataracts which 
serve us for many motions ; artificial wells and foun- 
tains; great and fiqpacious houses for experiments; 
certain chambers of health, where we qualify the air 
as we think good and proper, for the cure (^ divers 
diseases and preservation of health ; large and various 
orchards and gardens ; parks and inclosures of all 
sorts of beasts and birds; brewhouses, bakehouses, 
kitchens, dispensatories or shops of medicines, flimaces, 
perspective houses, sound houses, where we practise 
and demonstrate all sounds and their gen^ation ; per- 
fume-houses, engine-houses, mathematical-houses, &c" 
These are called the riches of Solomon's house. The 
employments of the Fellows are then described : " We 
have twelve that sail into foreign countries, who bring 
in the books and patterns of experiments of all other 
parts. These we call merchants of light. We have 
three that collect the experiments which are in all 
books. These we call depredators. We have three 


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60 HISTORY OF [1655 — 60. 

that collect experiments of all mechanical arts, and 
also of liberal sciences ; and also of practices which 
are not brought into arts. These we call mystery- 
men. We have three that try new experiments, such 
as themselves think good. These we call pioneers, or 
miners. We have three that draw the experiments of 
the former four into titles and tablets^ to give the 
better light for the drawing of observations and 
axioms out of them. These we call compilers. We 
have three that bind themselves looking into the 
experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to 
draw out of them things of use and practice for 
man's life and knowledge, as well for works as for plain 
demonstration of causes, means, natural divinations, 
and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and 
parts of bodies. These we call doing men, or bene- 
factors. Then after divers meetings and consulti^ of our 
whole number, to consider of the former labours and 
collections, we have three that take care, out of them, 
to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more 
penetrating into nature than the former. These we 
call lamps. We have three others that do execute 
the experiments so directed, and report them. These 
we call inoculators. Lastly, we have three that raise 
the former discoveries by experiments into greater 
observations^ axioms, and aphorisms. These we call 
interpreters of nature ^" 

RaVley in his Preface to the Ataiantis says, "This 
fable my lord devised, to the end that hee might ex- 
hibite therein a modell or description of a college, 
instituted for the interpreting of nature, and the pro- 
ducing of great and marvellous works for the benefit 

' Works, Vol. II. pp. 364—377. 

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1655 — 60.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 61 

of men, under the name of SolomorCs Hotise^ or the 
College of the Six Dayes Works; and even so far his 
lordship hath proceeded as to finish that part. Cer* 
tainly the model is more vast and high than can 
possibly be imitated in all things, notwithstanding 
most things therein are within men's power to effect. 
His lordship thought also, in this present fable, to 
have composed a frame of laws ; or of the best state or 
mould of a commonwealth ; but foreseeing it would 
be a long work, his desire of collecting the Natural 
History diverted him, which he preferred many de- 
grees before it®." 

Tennison observes, speaking of the New Atalantis^ 
* Neither do we here unfitly place this fable, for it 
is the model of a college, to be instituted by some 
king, who philosophizeth for the interpreting of nature 
and the improving of arts." 

Sprat was so fully impressed with the wisdom of 
Bacon's design that, in alluding to him, he writes, " If 
my desires could have prevailed with some excellent 
friends of mine, who engaged me to write this work, 
there should have been no other pre&ce to my account 
of the Royal Society but some of his writings." 

' The New Atalantis is well deserving of perusal. In 1660, an 
attempt was made to complete Bacon s sketchy in a work published 
under the title, "iVeto Atalantis^ begun by the Lord Verulam, 
Viscount St. Alban's, and continued by R. H., Esquire. Wherein is 
set forth a platform of monarchial government, with a pleasant inter- 
mixture of divers rare inventions and wholsom customs, fit to be 
introduced into all kingdoms, states, and commonwealths. London, 
printed for John Crooke, at the signe of the Ship, in St. Paul's 
Church- yard, 1660." Conoemiug this work, which is curious, Ten- 
nison says, ** This supplement has been lately made by another 
hand, a great and hardy adventure, to finish a piece after Lord 
Verulam's pencil/' 


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62 HISTORY OF [1655—60. 

The testimony of Oldenburg may be adduced to 
show that Bacon was held to be one of the greatest, if 
not the chie^ founder of the experimental school of 
philosophy. ''The enrichment of the storehouse of 
natural philosophy was a work,'' he says, ** begun by 
the single care and conduct of the excellent Lord 
Yerulam, and is now prosecuted by the joint under- 
takings of the Royal Society^;" and, at a subsequent 
period, he observes, " When our renowned Lord Bacon 
had demonstrated the methods for a perfect restora* 
tion of all parts of real knowledge, the success became 
on a sudden stupendotis^ and effective philosophy"^ 
began to sparkle;, and even to flow into beams of bright 
shining light all over the world ^^.'' 

Boyle, in his voluminous works, which extend to 
five large folios^ frequently conmiemorates and ho- 
nours the name of Bacon. In his treatise on the 
Mechanical Origin qf Heat and Cold, he tells us that 
*' Bacon was the first among the modems who handled 
the doctrine of heat like an experimental philoso- 
pher ;" in his Considerations totiching Experimental 
Essays in General', that ''he had made considerable 
collections, with the view of following up Bacon's 
plan of a natural history ;'' in his Eay>eriments and 
Observations Umching Cold, he extols Bacon as " the 
great ornament and guide of the philosophical his- 
torians of nature ;" in his Excellency of Theology, he 
says that Bacon was " the great restorer of physics, 
and had traced out the most useful way to make dis- 
coveries ;" and he writes in his Essay on the UseftU-- 
ness qf Experimmtal Philosophy, " it waus owing to the 

• PhU. Trans., No. xx. p. 391. 

" Ibid., PxefiM» to Phil. Trans, far 1672. 


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1655—60.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 63 

sagacity and freedom of Lord Bacoo, that men were 
then pretty well enabled both to make discoreries, 
and to remove the impediments that had hitherto 
kept physics from being nsefuL" 

Various other writers of this period might be 
quoted, who pay grateful homage to Bacon, for the 
service he rendered to science, some calliDg him the 
** Patriarch of Experimental Philosophy"/* " I^" says 
Dr. WheweU, "we must select some one philosopher 
as the hero of the revolution in scientific method, be- 
yond all doubt^ Francis Bacon must occupy the place 
of honour"." 

** It has been attempted by some/' writes a dis- 
tinguished philosopher of our day, ''to lessen the 
merit of Bacon's great achievement by showing that 
the inductive method had been practised in many 
instances, both ancient and modern, by the mere in- 
stinct of mankind ; but it is not the introduction of 
inductive reasoning as a new and hitherto imtried 
process which, characterises the Baconian philosophy, 
but bis keen perception, and his broad and spirit- 
stirring, almost enthusiastic announcement of its im- 
portance as the alpha and omega of science, as the 
grand and only chain for the linking together of 
physical truths, and the eventual key to every dis* 
covery and every application. It is on this account 
that Bacon, though his actual contributions to the 
stock of physical truths were small, is justly entitled 
to be looked upon as the great reformer of science^." 

*' See particularly Glanvill'a Plu9 Ultroy or The Progre9$ and 
Adrancemem of Knowledge since the days of Aristotle^ 8vo. London, 

" Phii. Ind. ScL, Vol. n. p. 230. 

" Hewchel, Nat. Phil.,^. 114. 


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64 HISTORY OP [1655 60. 

It is not a little singular that whilst some English 
writers have ascribed the origin of the Royal Society 
to foreign influences, there are several continental 
philosophers, who trace the rise of their academies to 
effects produced by the writings of Bacon". Sorbidre, 
who acted for some time as secretary to one of those 
associations of French savans which existed before 
the Academy of Sciences was founded, says, speaking 
. of Bacon : — Ce grand homme est, sans doute, cduy qui 
a le plus puissamment solicit les interests de la phy^ 
sique, et excite le moTide d/aire des eaperiences^K'' 

The Abbd Gallois says. On peut dire que ce grand 
Chancelier est un de ceux qui ont le plus contribuS a 
tavancement des sciences^^; and Puffendorf has re- 
corded, that ** it was Bacon who raised the standard, 
and urged on the march of discovery ; so that if any 
improvements have been made in philosophy in this 
age, there has been not a little owing to that emi- 
nent philosopher.'* 

Whilst the memory of this great man was che- 
rished, and the spirit of his philosophy abroad, the 
establishment of the Royal Society was accomplished. 
A great number of eminent men existed at that 
period in England, nearly all of whom were warmly 
interested in the progress of science ; and it thus only 
required the cessation of domestic troubles, to cause 
their attention to be turned to experimental philo- 

In 1660, the meetings at Gresham College were 
revived, and were, according to the authority of Dr. 
Wallis, attended by an increased number of persons ; 

" See Buchneri, Acad* Nat, Curi, Hist 

" Relation cTun Voyage en Angleterre^ p. 678. 

*• Journal des Savam^ 1666. 


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1655 — 60.3 THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 65 

and on the 28th November in that year, the first 
Journal-book of the Society, a plain unpretending 
volume, bound in basil, yet destined to receive great 
names, and to be the record of important scientific 
experiments, was opened, with the following * Memo- 
randum,^ which is the first official record of the Royal 

" Memorandum that Novemb. 28. 1660, These per- 
sons following, according to the usuall custom of most 
of them, mett together at Gresham Colledge to heare 
Mr, Wren's lecture, viz. The Lord Brouncker, Mr. Boyle, 
Mr. Bruce, Sir Robert Moray, Sir Paul Neile, Dr. Wil- 
kins. Dr. Goddard, Dr. Petty, Mr. Ball, Mr. Rooke, Mr. 
Wren, Mr. Hill. And after the lecture was ended, they 
did, according to the usual manner, withdrawe for mu- 
tuall converse. Where amongst other matters that were 
discoursed of, something was offered about a designe of 
founding a Colledge for the promoting of Physico-Mathe- ^ 
maticaU Experimentall Learning. And because they had 
these frequent occasions of meeting with one another, 
it was proposed that some course might be thought of, 
to improve this meeting to a more regular way of debat- 
ing things, and according to the manner in other coun- 
tryes, where there were voluntary associations of men 
in academies, for the advancement of various parts of 
learning, so they might doe something answerable here 
for the promoting of experimentall philosophy. 

•* In order to which, it was agreed that this Company 
would continue their weekly meeting on Wednesday, at 
3 of the clock in the tearme time, at Mr. Rooke's cham- 
ber at Gresham Colledge ; in the vacation, at Mr. 
Ball^s chamber in the Temple. And towards the defray- 
ing of pccasionall expenses, every one should, at his 
first admission, pay downe ten shillings, and besides- 
VOL. I. P 


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engage to pay one shilling weekly, whether present or 
absent, whitest he shall please to keep his ration to 
this Company. At this Meeting Dr. Wilkins was ap- 
pointed to the chaire, Mr. Ball to be Treasurer, and 
Mr. Croone, though absent, was named for Register. 

"And to the end that they might the better be 
enabled to make a conjecture of how many the elected 
number of this Society should con^t, therefore it was 
desired that a list might be taken of the names of such 
persons as were known to those present, whom they 
judged willing and fit to joyne with them in their 
designe, who, if they should desire it, might be admitted 
before any other"." / 

Upon which, this following Catalogue was offered : 

Lord Hatton. 
4^ Mr. Eobert Boyle. 

Mr. Jones. 

Mr. Coventry. 

Mr. Brereton. 
,^ir Kenelme Digby. 

Sir Ant. Morgan. 

Mr. John Vaughan. 
^y^Mr. Evelyn. 

Mr. Eawlins. 

Mr. Matthew Wren. 

Mr. Slingsby. 

Mr. Henshaw. 
k^—Mr. Denham. 

Mr. Povey. 

Mr. Wilde. 

Dr. Ward 

Dr. Wallis. 

Dr. Glisson. 

Dr. Bates. 

Dr. Ent. 

Dr. Scarburgh. 

Dr. Phrasier. 

Dr. Coxe. 
. Dr. Merrett. 

Dr. Whistler. 

Dr. Clarke. 

Dr. Bathurst. 
^Dr. Cowley »«. 

Bt. Willis. 

Dr. Henshaw. 

Dr. Ffinch. 

" Jour. Book, Vol. i. p. 1. 

'' He had been created M.D. at Oxford, Dec. 2, 1657. Wood, 
Fai. Oxm. 


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1655—60.] THE KOYAL SOCIETY, 67 

Dr. Baines. Mr. Austen. 

Dr. Wren. Mr. Oldenburg; 

Mr. Smith. Mr. Pett. 

Mr. Ashmole. Mr. Croone". 
Mr. Newburg. 

On the following Wednesday, being the 5th De- 
cember, a Meeting was held, when, it is recorded in 
the Journal-book, "Sir Robert Moray brought in 
word from the court, that the King had been ac- 
quainted with the designe of this Meeting. And he 
did well approve of it, and would be ready to give 
encouragement to it.'' 

** It was ordered that Mr. Wren be desired to pre- 
pare against the next meeting for the Pendulum 

" That Mr. Croone be desired to looke out for some 
discreet person skilled in short-hand writing, to be 
an amanuensis. 

^ It was then agreed that the number be not in- 
creased, bnt by consent of the Society who have 
already subscribed their names : till such time as the 
orders for the constitution be settled. 

t* That any three or more of this company (whose 
occasions will permit them,) are desired to meete 
as a Committee, at 3 of the clock on Fryday, to con- 
sult about such orders in reference to the constitution, 
as they shall think fitt to offer to the whole company, 
and so to adjoume de die in diemJ' Under the above 
date of the 5th Dec. 1660, the first page of the Journal- 
book contains the following obligation : 

" Locke's name will be missed here: he joined the Society a 
few yeazB after its Incorporation, and contributed papers to the 



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HISTORY OF [1655—60, 

" Wee whose names are underwritten, doe consent 
and agree that wee will meet together weekely (if not 
hindered by necessary occasions), to Qonsult and debate 
concerning the> promoting of experimentall learning. 
And that each of us will allowe one shilling weekely, 
towards, the defraying of occasionall charges. Provided 
that if any one or more of us shall thinke fitt at any 
time to withdrawe, he or they shall, after notice thereof 
given to the Company at a meeting, be freed from this 
obligation for the future.'' 

To this are attached the signatures of all those 
persons comprised in the Catalogue of names prepared 
at the meeting ou the 28th of November, as also, of 
seventy-three others, who were subsequently elected 
into the Society, as may be seen in the Journal-book. 

On the 12th December another Meeting was held, 
wheu the following business was transacted : — 

" It was referred to my Lord Brouncker, Sir Robert 
Moray, Sir Paul Neil, Mr. Matthew Wren, Dr. Goddard, 
and Mr. Christopher Wren,^ to consult about a conve- 
nient place for the weekly meeting of the Society. 

'*It was then voted that no person shall be admitted 
into the Society without scrutiny, excepting only such 
as are of the degree of Barons or above. 

"Sir Kenelme Digby, Mr. Austen, and Dr. Bates, 
were then by vote chosen into the Society. 

"That the stated number of this Society be five and 
fifty. That twenty-one of the stated number of this 
Society be the quorum for Elections. 

" That any person of the degree of Baron or above 
may be admitted as supemumerarys, if they shall desire 
it, and will conforme themselves to such orders as, are 
or shall be established. 

" Whereas it was suggested at the Comipittee that 


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1655 — 60.] THE fiOYAL SOCIETY. 69 

the CoIIedge of Physitians would afford convenient 
accommodation for the meeting of this Society; uppon 
supposition that it be graunted and accepted of, it 
was thought reasonable, that any of the Fellowes of the 
said Colledge, if they shall desire it, be likewise admitted 
as Supemumerarys, they submitting to the Lawes of the 
Society, both as to the pay at their admission, and the 
weekly allowance ; as likewise the particular works or 
tasks that may be allotted to them. 

"That the Publick Professors of Mathematioks, Phy. 
sick, and Natural! Philosophy, of both Universitys, have 
the same priviledge with the CoUedge of Physitians, 
they paying as others at their admission, and contribut- 
ing their weekely allowance and assistance, when their 
occasions do permitt them to be in London. 

"That the quorum of this Society be nine for all 
matters excepting the Businesse of Elections. 

"Concerning the Manner of Elections. 

"That no man shall be elected the same day he is 
proposed. That at ihe least twenty-one shall be present 
at each election. 

"That the Amanuensis doe provide severall little 
scroles of paper of an equall length and breadth, in 
number double to the Society present. One halfe of 
them shall be marked with a crosse, and being roled up 
shall be lay'd in a heap on the table, the other halfe 
shall be marked with cyphers, and being roled up shall 
be lay'd in another heap. Every person coming in his 
order shall take from each heap a role, and throwe 
whieh he please privately into an tune, and the other 
into a boxe. Then the Director, and two others of the 
Society, openly numbering the crossed roles in the um^ 
shall accordingly pronounce the election. 


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70 HEBTOBY OF [l655 — 60. 

''That if two-thirds of the present number do consent 
uppon any scrutiny, that election to be good, and not 


''The atandittg^ Officers of this Society to be three^ 
that is to say, a President or Director, a Treasurer, and 
a Hegister. The President to be chosen monthly. 

''The Treasurer to contmue one yeare, as also the 

"That there be likewise two servants belonging to 
this Society, an Amanuensis, and an Operator. 

"That the Treasurer doe every quarter give in an 
account of the Stock in his hand, and all disbursements 
made to the President or Director, and any three others 
to be appointed by the Society : who are to report it to 
the Society. 

" That any bill of charges brought in by the Amanuen- 
sis and Operator, and subscribed by the President and 
Register for any experiment made, and subscribed by 
the Curators of the experiment, or the m%jor part of 
them, be a sufficient warrant to the Treasurer for the 
payment of that sum. 

"That the Register provide three bookes, one for the 
statutes and names of the Society, another for experi- 
ments and the result of debates : and a third for occa- 
sionall orders. 

" That the salary of the Amanuensis be 40/. per annum, 
and his pay for particular business at the ordinary rate, 
either by the sheet or otherwise, as the President and 
Register can best agree with him. 

"That the salary of the Operator be foure pounds by 
the yeare, and for any other service, as the Curators 
who employ him shall judge reaaonabla 


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1655 — 60.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 71 

"That at every meetings three or more of the Society 
be desired that they would please to be reporters for 
that meeting, to sitt at table with the Register and take 
notes of all that shall be materially offered to the 
Society and debated in it, who together may form a 
report against the next meeting to be filed by the 

" When the admission-money comes to 20?., then to 

It had been contemplated to find apartments for 
the Society in the College of Physicians, which was 
then situated in Knight Rider Street. This plan, 
however, was not carried into effect, though there 
is every reason to believe that the members of the 
College were very favourably disposed towards the 
Infant Society of Philosophers. 



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Large proportion of Physicians amongst the early Members of 
the Society — Profession of Medicine much cultiyated at that 
period — [Account of College of Physicians — Harvey's Disco^ 
very of the Circulation of the Blood supported by the Royal 
Society — Gresham College chosen as a place of meeting — Sir 
Thomas Gresham's Will — Gresham Professors — Description of 
College— Manner of holding the Meetings — Superstitions still 
believed in — Witchcraft — ^Touching for the Evil — Greatrix the 
Stroker — Believed in by Boyle — May-Dew — Virgula Divina — 
Happy effect exercised on these Superstitions by the labours ot 
the Society. 


AMONG the names of persons recorded as likely to 
promote the objects of the Society, a large pro- 
portion, as may have been observed, were attached 
to the profession of Medicine. 

Biology, or the Science of Life, more particularly 
as applied to man, was cultivated with considerable 
diligence at the period of the foundation of the Royal 
Society ; having received an extraordinary impetus by 
Harvey's immortal discovery of the circulation of the 
blood. This went far towards destroying those extra- 
ordinary hypotheses of Paracelsus and others, described 
in Sprengel's History of Medicine^ where spirits^ 
good and evil, are made to work within man\ 

The science of medicine was honoured by having 
had, long antecedently to this period, a College spe- 

Paracelsus affirmed that digestion was carried on by the 
Demon Areh^nHy who lived in the stomach. See Spr. in. 468. It 
is remarkable that this doctrine was subsequently received and 
expanded by Van Helmont. 


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cially devoted to its high purposes ; and as a great 
number of the members of this institution assisted 
materially in founding, and promoting the objects of 
the Royal Society, it will be desirable to give a brief 
account in this place of the Institution. On the 23rd 
September, 1518, the College was incorporated by 
letters patent, granted to Thomas Linacre and others, 
who were constituted a perpetual "Commonalty or 
Fellowship of the Faculty of Physic." To Linacre is 
due the merit of establishing the College. He was 
bom at Canterbury about 1460. He studied at Ox- 
ford, Bologna, and Florence, and is said to have been 
the first Englishman who read Aristotle and Galen in 
the originals. He studied natural philosophy and medi- 
cine at Rome, graduated in physic at Padua» and on 
his return home received the degree of M.D. at Oxford, 
where he gained great reputation by his medical lec- 
tures and classical knowledge. ** He acquired," says 
Dr. Elliotson, '' immense practice, and stood without 
a rival at the head of his profession ; becoming phy^* 
sician to Henry VII., and VHI., and to Edward VI. ; 
and not through interest, accident, caprice, or sub- 
serviency, — ^which have raised so many without the 
education of the scholar and man of science, or more 
than a scanty amount of professional knowledge and 
skill, to such posts, — but through the force of his 
attainments. To him it could not be said, as it was 
to Piso by Cicero, Obrepsisti ad honores errore homi- 
num. He was perfectly straightforward, a faithful 
friend, the ready promoter of all the meritorious 
young, and kind to every one. To such a man the 
spectacle of brutally-ignorant pretenders treating the 
sick all over the kingdom without restraint, must 
have been distressing; and the duty of exerting his 


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74 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

great influence with the gorernment to refonn the 
practice of his profession, must have been felt bj him 
OTerwhelming^" It was when the sweating sickness» 
as it was called, raged with such fearful violence as 
not only to alarm the people generally, but even 
the carefully protected court, that linacre brought 
his plan of a Ck>llege of Physicians before Cardinal 
Wolsey, who, at the time, exercised almost unlimited 
power. He regarded the scheme favourably^ and its 
establishment followed as a matter of course. The 
first meeting of the new Society took place at Linacre's 
house. No. 5, Knight Rider Street, a building known 
as the Storehouse, which he gave to the College, 
and which still remains in their possession. But the 
science of Medicine was not advanced by Linacre. 
'^ We are indebted to him," says Dr. Elliotson in his 
interesting Oration, *^ for no original observation, no 
improvement in practice." Caius^ who flourished 
fifty years after Linacre, was a great benefisustor to 
the College, increasing its reputation by his scientific 
attainments. He studied anatomy at Padua under 
Vesalius of Brussds, whose great work Be Humani 
CorpoTU Fdbricd, is yet considered a splendid monu- 
ment of art, as well as science^ Caius erected s 
statue to Linacre's memory in St Paul's, and endowed 
Gonville College at Cambridge with estates for the 
maintenance of three fellows and twenty scholars; 
two of the former were required to be physicians, 
and three of the latter medical students^ Hie heal-> 

« ffarveian Oratian/or 1846, p. 39. 

* The figures in this work are stated to have been designed by 
Titian. See Cuvier's Lemons sur VHisU des Sci. Nat. 

* Cains is the original of the ridiculous French doctor in the 
Merry Wive9 o/* Windsor. 


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166Q — 66.] THE ROYAL SOCaETY. 75 

lag art, however, advanced but slowly. The extreme 
dumsiness and cruelty with which operations were per* 
formed, even subsequently to the above period, would 
scarcely be credited, had we not authentic descrip- 
tions of them by the operators, still in our possession. 
Thus Fabricius of Acquapendente, the eminent profes^ 
sor at Padua, and preceptor to the immortal Harvey, 
describes what he considered an improved and easy 
operation in the following terms : ** If it be a move- 
able tumour, I cut it away with a red-hot knife, that 
sears as it cuts ; but if it be adhered to the chest, I 
cut it without bleeding or pain^ (!) with a wooden or 
horn knife soaked in aqua-fortis, with which, having 
out the skin, I dig out the rest with my fingers'' ! ! 
When the surgeons of Edinburgh were incorporated, 
it was required as a pre-requisite that they should 
be able to read and write, ^'to know the anatomic, 
nature, and ccmiplexion of everie member of humanis 
body, and lykewayes to know all vaynes of the same, 
that he may make flewbothemie in dew time." These 
were all the professional qualifications considered 
necessary at that period, so that we must not feel any 
surprise at the low state of medicine and surgery. 
Sir William Petty informs us, that even in his time 
the proportion of deaths to cures in the Hospitals of 
St Bartholomew and St. Thomas was 1 to 7 ; whilst 
we know by subsequent documents, that in the latter 
establishment, during 1741, the mortality had dimin-* 
ished to 1 in 10; during 1780 to 1 in 14; during 
1813 to 1 in 16; and in 1827, out of 12,494 patients 
under treatment, only 259 died, or 1 in 48. His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex justly said, in one 
of his addresses from the chair of the Royal Society, 
'' Such is the advantage which has already been 


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76 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

derived from the improvement of tnedieal science, 
that comparing the value of life as it is now calcu-- 
lated, to what it was a hundred years ago, it has 
absolutely doubled." And Sir Astley Cooper asserted 
that the human frame was better understood in his 
time by students, than it had been previously by pro- 

The great Harvey was born in 1578, at Folkestone 
in Kent. After studying at Cambridge, he went to 
Padua, where the fame of Fabricius attracted medical 
students from all parts of Europe. There, " excited 
by the discovery of the valves of the veins, which his 
master had recently made, and reflecting on the direc- 
tion of the valves, which are at the entrance of the 
veins into the heart, and at the exit of the arteries 
from it, he conceived the idea of making experiments 
in order to determine what is the course of the blood 
in its vessels. He found that when he tied up veins 
in various animals, they swelled below the ligature, 
or in the part furthest from the heart ; while arteries, 
with a like ligature, swelled on the side next the 
heart. Combining these facts with the direction of 
the valves, he came to the conclusion, that the blood 
is impelled by the left side of the heart in the arteries 
to the extremities, and thence returns by the veins 
into the right side of the heart. He showed, too, how 
this was confirmed by the phenomena of the pulse, 
and by the results of opening the vessels. He proved, 
also, that the circulation of the lungs is a continuation 
of the larger circulation ; and thus the whole doctrine 
of the double circulation was established. Harvey 
made his experiments in 1616 and 1618. It is com- 
monly said that he first promulgated his opinion in 
1619, but the manuscript of his lecture, which he 


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)660 — 65.^ THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 77! 

delivered before the College of Physicians, and which 
is preserved in the British Museum, refers them to 
April 1616*." It is proper to mention that ,Caldwall, 
a Fellow of Brazenose College, and President of 
the College of Physicians, had endowed, in conjunc- 
tion with Lord Lumley, an anatomical and surgical 
lectureship; and it was through this channel that 
the announcement of the circulation of the blood was 

It is not in accordance with the plan of this work, 
to enter into any details respecting the violent oppo^ 
ation that Harvey's announcement of the circulation 
of the blood met with. The fact is well known, but 
he had nevertheless the singular pleasure, often denied 
to discoverers, of seeing his discovery generally adopt- 
ed during his lifetime, though we find a candidate 
for a medical degree taking for the title of his inau- 
gural dissertation in 1642, under the auspices of the 
President Chasles, Ergo motus sanguinis non ctrcur- 
hris. And in 1672, thirty years later, another can- 
didate, under the patronage of another president, 
selected for the title of his dissertation. Ergo san-* 
guinis motus circularis impossibilis'. Aubrey, in his 
Manuscript of the Natural History of Wiltshire, pre- 
served in the library of the Royal Society, writes, 
alluding to Harvey, *'He told me himself that upon 
his publishing that booke, he fell in his practice ex- 
tremely;" and Dr. Elliotson informs us, that ^'the 
medical profession stigmatized Harvey as a fool." 

* WheweD's Eist. Ind. Sei,, Vol. ra. p. 439. 

• Elliotson, Har. Ora.y p. 43. 

' Ibid., loe. ct^, yrhete a most interesting account is giTen 
of the difficulties which Harvej experienced. . ...... 


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78 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

But, as has been stated, truth eventually pre- 
vailed ; and at the period of the establishment of the 
Royal Society, the circulation of the blood was gene- 
rally admitted. It is right to record, that Harvey 
was always supported by the Fellows of the Society. 
Medical science, and the Ciollege of Phydcians, had 
acquired great reputation, and the Fellows of the Col-- 
lege were regarded as valuable accessions to the young 
Society of Philosophers. To render this notice of the 
College of Physicians more complete, it may be added, 
that about the period of the accession of Charles L 
the Fellows removed from Knight Rider Street to 
Amen Comer, where they purchased the lease of a 
house from the Dean and Chapter of St. PauFs. 
Here Harvey erected an elegantly furnished convo- 
cation-room and museum, and in 1666, the year 
before his decease, he added to those gifts the assign- 
ment of a farm of the then value of £56 per annum, 
to defray the expenses of a monthly collation, as also 
of an anniversary feast^ and for the establishment of 
an annual Latin oration^. The great fire of London 
entirely destroyed the premises of the College, and 
the greater portion of the library. Li 1669, a piece 
of ground was purchased in Warwick Lane, for the 
purpose of building a College, the design for which 
was famished by Sir Christopher Wren. The new 

* ^llie montlily c<^tioii is kept up in the form of oo£^ and 
cakes, and the annual Oration ie continued in Latin, but the general 
feast has not been celebrated for five-and-twenty years, the money 
being applied, as there is authority for doing, to the solid purposes 
of the College, whose means have never been ample, and are all 
spent in the performance of what are its imperatire duties." Elliot- 
son, Ear. Ora. 


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1660— «5.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 79 

edifice was opened in 1674, under the presidency of 
Sir George Ent. Here the Fellows remained until 
1825, when, as Dr. Macmichael observes in The Goldr 
headed Cane^ ''the change of feshion having over- 
come the genius lod^ they removed to their present 
residence at the corner of Pall Mall East and Tra- 
falgar Square, which was erected by Sir R. Smirke, 
and opened on the 25th July, 1825, with a Latin 
oration delivered by the President, Sir Henry Hal- 

We must now return to the Royal Society: — 
At a Meeting held on the 12th December, it was 
''ordered that the next Meeting should be atGresham 
Colledge, and so from weeke to weeke till further 
order." By this it is evident that the idea of meeting 
at the College of Physicians was abandoned ; and as 
Gresham College may be regarded as the cradle of 
the Royal Society, where they assembled for many 
years, some account of that building may here be 
very properly introduced *^ 

' The old College in Warwick Lane is now occupied by braziers 
and braas-foundeis. 

^ The young Society had not met many months at OreshamN 
College before a poem was written, entitled. In praiss of the choice 
company of Philosophere and Witt#, who meet on Wednetdays^ 
fceekly, at Gresham CoUege. It is s^ed W. G. (probably William 
GlanyiU). The poem exists in the fonn of a MS. m the British 
Museum. There are twenty-eight sextains. The following quotan 
tton is a fiiir specimen :-^ 

^^ The Merchants on the Exchange doe plott 

To encrease the Kingdom's wealthy trade; 

At Gresham College a learned knotty 

TJnparallerd designs have la/d, 

To make themselves a corporation. 

And know all things by demonstration. 


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80 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

In 1676, Sir Thomas Gresham made a will, in, 
which he left one moiety of the building of the Bojal 
Exchange, with all pawns, shops, cellars, vaults, mes« 
suages, tenements, &c. unto the Mayor, Commonalty, 
and Citizens of London, and to their successors, upon 
trust, to perform certain payments, and other intents 
hereafter limited — ^and willed, that the said Mayor, Cor- 
poration, and their successors, should every year give 
and distribute for the sustentation of four persons, to 
be chosen by the said Mayor and Commonalty, meet 
to read lectures of divinity, astronomy, music, and 
geometry, within his mansion situated in Bishopsgate 
Street, the sum of 200/. yearly, that is, 50/. per 
annum to each of the said readers ; and out of the 
other moiety of the buildings of the Royal Exchanges 
and their appurtenances, which he bequeathes to the 
"Commonalty of the mystery of the Mercers of 
London," he willed that they, and their successors^ 

This noble learned corporation. 
Not for themselves are thus combin'd. 
But for the publick good o' th' nation, 
And general benefit of mankind. 
These are not men of common mould; 
They covet fame, but condemn gold. 
This College will the whole world measure, 
Which most impossible conclude. 
And navigation make a pleasure, 
By finding out the longitude: 
Every Tarpaulian shall then with ease 
Saile any ship to the Antipodes. 
/The College Gresham shall hereafter 
Be the whole world's University; 
Oxford and Cambridge are our laughter ; 
Their learning is but pedantry ; 
These new Collegiates do assure us, 
Aristotle's an ass to Epicurus." - . . 


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1660 55.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 81 

should ^ve and pay for the finding and sustentation 
of three persons, by them from time to time to be 
chosen, meet to read lectures on Law, Physick, and 
Rhetorick, within his said Mansion House in Bishops- 
gate Street, the sum of 150/. per annum, that is, 50/. 
yearly to each of the said readers." 

This noble gift was subsequently confirmed by 
act of parliament ; and, after the decease of Lady Anne 
Gresham, which occurred in 1596, lecturers were 
chosen, who delivered lectures, " to the great delight 
of many, both learned, and lovers of learning." — ^It 
is remarkable that, although Sir Thomas Gresham 
evidently intended that a lecture should be delivered 
daily throughout the year, by one of the seven lec- 
turers^ yet they were given only in term time, which 
created so much disappointment amongst the public, 
that a petition was preferred to the Trustees for 
managing the afiairs of the College, praying that the 
Founder's Will, which required the lectures to be 
read daily, (as the petitioners understood) might be 
put in execution. This petition was taken into con- 
sideration by the Trustees, and the Professors heard . 
in their defence, who cited authorities to prove that 
the word "daily," in the Founder's Will was an "aca- 
demick word," and therefore to be understood as 
meaning the days in the Term-weeks only. * 

The result was, that, although the Trustees were 
divided in opinion, as to the intention of the founder, 
they acceded to the prayer of the petitioners so far 
only as to enjoin the Professors to read, not only in 
the broken weeks, but also a few days before the 
terms commenced. The Professors complied with the 
first condition of this injunction, but refused to lec- 

VOL. I. G 


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82 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

ture out of term-time, to the great discontent of the 

The Gresham Professors had apartments assigned 
to them in the college, which were most commodious 
and comfortable ^^ "Here," says Sprat, "the Royal 
Society has one publick room to meet in, another for 
a repository to keep their instruments, books, rarities, 
papers, and whatever else belongs to them : making 
use besides, by permission, of several of the other 
lodgings, as their occasions do require. And when I 
consider the place itself, methinks it bears some like* 
ness to their design ; it is now a CoUedge, but was once 
the mansion-house of one of the greatest merchants 
that ever was in England"." 

The following more precise description of Gre- 
sham College is taken from a curious pamphlet in the 
British Museum, entitled. Account of the ProceedingB 
in the Council qf the Royal Society^ in order to remove 
from Gresham College. "The great hall, to which 
the ascent from the court is by but a few steps, is 37 
foot long, near 20 foot broad, and 25, or 30 foot high. 
This spacious room is a noble entrance to the rest of 
the apartments of the Royal Society. The next room 
is about 35 foot long, near 20 foot broad, and 13 foot 
high; and in this the Society always met upon St. 

" A pamphlet was published in I7O79 entitled, An Account of 
the ritCy foundation J proffrciSy and pretent 9tate of Gresham College^ 
^oith th^Life of the Founder; €u alio ofmmie late mdeavownfor obtain* 
ing the revival and reititution of the Lectures there; with some Be- 
marks thereupon. 4to. London, 1707* See also Tooke's tract entitled, 
An exact copy of the last foUl and testament of Sir Thomas Gresham, 

" Ward's Lives of the Gresham Professors. 

"" Bist. Royal Society, p. 93. 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 83 

AndreW^s Day, for their anniversaxy elections. The 
inner room, for their ordinary weekly meetings, is 
about 22 foot long and 18 foot broad. ^ These three 
rooms are all upon the same floor; from the last, 
two or three steps conveys you into the gallery, which 
is 140 foot long and 13^ broad. Beyond this is the 
repository of their curiosities, which, with the two 
rooms adjoining, is about 90 foot long and 12 or 12^ 
broad. Besides all these conmiodious rooms within, 
they have the use of a fair colonnade under the gal- 
lery, and of a spacious area about 140 foot long and 
107 foot broad." 

Some idea of Gresham College may. be gathered 
firom the annexed drawing, copied from an authentic 
engraying in Ward's Lives qfthe Gresham Prqfessors^\ 
The concluding portion of the history of Gresham 
College is a melancholy detail. As the value of land 
in the city increased, the two trustee corporations 
thought much less about keeping up the lectures 
than of realizing large sums of money, by letting the 
ground on building leases. 

We shall presently see, that when the Royal 
Society ceased to meet in the College, this institution 
was an object of contempt to the citizens, as previ- 
ously to that period (1710) the lectures had become a 
mere empty name. It is true, that in 1706 some high- 
minded and intellectual individuals made great but 
unsuccessful exertions to revive the lectures. Petitions 
were now sent in to parliament^ for leave to destroy 
the building; but though thegovemment^ in the reigns 

'* The yearly yaiue of thiB mansioii-honse, with the gardens 
appertainiBg to it, was, at the time of Lady Gresham s death, 
66/. 13f. 4d. 


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84 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

of William III. and George I. evinced their respect 
for the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, by rejecting these 
petitions, the legislature of 1767 (when, be it remem- 
bered, the patron of science, George III. was on the 
throne), passed an act, authorizing the destruction of 
the building, upon whose site was reared the Exctse- 
office! For the poor sum of 500/. per annum the 
trustees agreed to demolish the College, and to part 
with all the land (the property really of the public)^ 
for the very unphilosophical purposes of an Excise- 

" But," says Professor Taylor, " this was not all ; 
not only were the citizens of London thus deprived of 
their College, with the spacious lecture-hall in which 
they had been accustomed to assemble, but another 
part of the Act compelled the trustees and guardians 
of this property to pay 1800/. for, and towards the 
expense of pulling down the same- That is, they 
were constrained, by an especial law, to commit a gross 
and flagrant violation of their trust, and to employ 
those very funds, which Sir Thomas Gresham had 
Vested in them for the support and maintenance of 
his College, in demolishing and destroying it." " Am 
I wrong," pursues the Professor, "in asserting that 
this transaction has no pvallel in any civilized coun- 

" Thus was this venerable seat of learning and sci- 
ence, founded by the munificence of one of your most 
eminent citizens, and hallowed by a thousand interest- 
ing associations, — the mansion in which successive 

" It is rigbt to mention, that the act empowered the Trustees 
to provide sufficient and proper places in which the seven Professors 
might read their Lectures. 


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X660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 85 

monarchs had been entertained, in which princes had 
lodged and banqueted, — which, when London lay in 
ashes, had afforded shelter and refuge to its citizens, 
a residence to its chief magistrate, an Exchange for its 
merchants, and a home to the houseless ; — thus was 
the hall in which Barrow, Briggs, Bull, and Wren 
had lectured, and the rooms where Newton, Locke, 
Petty, Boyle, Hooke, and Evelyn associated for the 
advancement of science, — rased to the ground *•." 

Prophetic indeed was the intimation which Sir T. 
Gresham received from his parent university of Cam- 
bridge : " If you design your institution to last, you 
will place it here." 

According to Professor Taylor, the public journals 
of the time contain no account of any effort on the 
part of the citizens of London to perpetuate the 
existence of their College. The only notice of its 
destruction, beyond the bare record of the event, is 
contained in a short poetical satire, entitled Gresham's 
Ghosts or a Tap at the Excise-office^ with this motto ; 
Is this home^ which I have called by my name, become 
a den of robbers ? Behold, even I have seen it, saith 
the Lord. (Jer. vii. 11 ). 

It is very much to. be regretted that Dr. Sprat 
has not given more particulars of the early proceed- 
ings of the Society. His history is, unfortunately, 
more devoted to a defence of philosophy and the 
Society, than to any account of the labours of the 
first members. We have in consequence very scanty 
information of the mode, or, as Dr. Sprat calls it, 
** Ceremonies of their meetings." The little he gives is, 
however, worth quoting : — 

Inaugural Lect.^ p. 58. 


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86 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

" Their time of meeting is every Wednesday, after 
the lectm'e of the Astronomy Professor; perhaps in 
memory of the first occasion of their rendezvouses. 

"Their elections performed by ballotting^s every Mem- 
ber having a vote ; the candidates being named at one 
meeting, and put to the scrutiny at another. 

" Their chief officer is the President *^; to whom it 
belongs to call and dissolve their meetings ; to propose 
the suijee^y to regulate the proceedings ; to change the 
inquiry from one thing to another ; to admit the mem- 
bers who are elected. 

" Besides him they had at first a Begistety who was to 
take notes of all that pass'd ; which were afterwards to 
be reduced into their journals and register-books. This 
task was first performed by Dr. Croone. But they since 
thought it necessary to have two Secretaries ^^ 

" This," adds Dr. Sprat, "is all that I have to say con-, 
ceming their ceremonial part; for the work which the 
Society proposes to itself being not so fine and easie as 
that of teaching is, but rather a painful digging and 
toiling in nature, it would be a great incumbrance to 
them to be straitened to many strict pimctilioes, as 
much as it would be to an artificer to be loaded with 
many clothes while he is labouring in his shop^^" 

'^ The custom of ballotting had been introduced into England a 
short time only before this period. Wood, in the ii ihenas Owonienset^ 
says, that a political club met in 1659, at Miles' Cofiee-house, 
Westminster. " The gang had a ballotting box, and ballotted how 
things should be carried; which being not used or known in England 
before, upon this account the room every evening was yeiy full. 
Vol. n. p. 439. 

'• This was written after the Society were incorpoxated. 
"P. 94. 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 87 

The Society being now located, addressed them- 
selves to the great objects of their institution, with 
all the diligence and ardour of zealous seekers after 
truth. The almost unexplored storehouse of Nature 
was before them; every step revealed new wonders 
and new &cts, which had great effect in demolishing 
the errors and superstitions of preceding centuries; 
for much as there was to do, as much almost re- 
mained to be undone. 

Though past the middle of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, men calling themselves philosophers, and so 
styled by the multitude, yet cherished a belief in 
witchcraft, which, supported by Royal authority (for 
James I. wrote on] demonology ^), and countenanced 
by Bacon*^ was idmost universally adopted by the 

" See James VI. Dasmonohgte^ in which the royal- author says 
^^ The fearfull abounding at this time in this country of these detest- 
able slaues of the Dieul, the witches or enchanters^ hath moved me 
(beloued reader) to despatch in part this following treatise of mine^ 
not in any wise, as I protest, to serve for any show of my learning 
and ingine, but only (moned of conscience) to proceed thereby, so 
far as I can, to resolue the doubting hearts of many, both that 
such assaults of Satan are most certainly practised, and that the 
instruments thereof merit most severely to be punished." 

^ Baoon, though so wonderfully in advance of the age in which 
he lived, and one of those men, bom rebuM agendis^ fiiU of out- 
ward movement, had still too much of the mortal about him to 
shake off all the superstitions of the times. There is little doubt of 
his having been a believer in sympathetic cures as well as witch- 
craft, as the following curious extract from his works testifies: 
^ The taking away of warts by rubbing them with somewhat that 
afterwards is put to waste and consume, is a common experiment ; 
and I do apprehend it the rather, because of mine own experience. 
I had from my childhood a wart upon one of my fingers ; after- 
wards, when I was about sixteen years old, being then at Paris, 
there grew upon both my hands a number of warts (at least an 



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88 HISTORY OF [166O — 65. 

people. During the civil wars, upwards of eighty 
individuals were executed in Suffolk alone for sup- 
posed witchcraft, upon the accusation of Hopkins, 
the notorious witch-finder ; and such was the feeling 
in France, that Bodin the renowned lawyer, who 
assisted at the trial and condemnation of several 
witches, taught that the trial of this atrocious offence 
must not be conducted like other crimes, and that 
"whoever adheres to the ordinary course of justice, 
perverts the spirit of the law, both human and 

Such an awful and fatal error, worthy of the 
darkest ages of superstition, could only be dissipated 
by the light of knowledge ; and though the statutes 
against witchcraft were not repealed until 1735, it 
is cheering to know that (according to Hutchinson, 
who wrote on witchcraft), "there were but two 

hundred), in a month's space. The English Amhassador s lady, 
who was a woman far from superstition, told me one day she 
would help me away with my warts; whereupon she got a piece of 
lard with the skin on, and ruhhed the warts all over with the &t 
side, and amongst the rest, that wart which I had had from my 
childhood; then she nailed the piece of lard^ with the fat towards 
the sun, upon a part of the chamher-window which was to the 
south. The success was, that within five weeks' space all the 
warts went quite away ; and that wart which I had so long endured 
for company. But, at the rest I did little marvel, because they 
came in a short time, and might go away in short time again; 
but the going away of that which had stayed so long, doth yet 
stick with me. They say the like is done by the rubbing of warts 
with a green elder stick, and then buxying the stick to rot in 
muck." Sylva Sylvarum. 

" Whitelock states, that ^Mn 1649 fourteen men and women 
were burnt at a little village near Berwick, for witchcraft, the 
entire popuktion of the village consisting only of fourteen fiunilies." 
Mem» p. 450. 


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1660 — 65.'\ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 89 

witches executed in^ England after the Royal Society 
published their Transactions^ and one of these was 
in the year after their first publication^." Another 
absurd, though happily not so fatal belief was that 
of curing scrofula by the Royal touch. This was 
practised from a very early date down to the reign 
of Queen Anne. Collier, in his Ecclesiastical History^ 
says, '' King Edward the Confessor was the first that 
cured this distemper, and from him it has descended 
as an hereditary miracle upon all his successors. To 
dispute the matter of fact, is to go to the excess of 
scepticism, to deny our senses, and to be incredulous 
even to ridiculousness." Charles II. entered London 
on the 29th of May 1660, and on the 6th of July fol- 
lowing he began to touch for the evil. Evelyn gives 
a graphic sketch of the ceremony. '' His Majesty 
sitting under his state in y^ banquetting house, the 
chirurgeons cause the sick to be brought or led up 
to the throne, where they kneeling, y* King strokes 
their faces or cheekes with both his hands at once, 
at which instant a chaplaine in his formalities says, 
' He put his hands upon them, and he healed them.' 
This is sayd to every one in particular. When they 
have been all touch'd, they come up againe in the same 
order, and the other chaplaine kneeling, and having 
angeP gold strung on white ribbon on his arme, 
delivers them one by one to his Ma^, who puts them 
about the necks of the touched as they passe, whilst 
the first chaplaine repeats, * That is y® true light who 

" The last execution of a witch took place in Sutherlandshire, 
in 1722. 

** Pieces of money so called, from having the figure of an angel 
on them. 


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90 HISTOBY OF [1660 — 60. 

came into y world/ Then follows an Epistle (as at 
first a Gospel) with the Liturgy, prayers for the sick, 
with some alteration ; lastly, y^ blessing ; then the Lo. 
Chamberlaine and Comptroller of the Household bring 
a basin, ewer, and towell for his Ma*** to wash**.*' 

Aubrey, who believed implicitly in this and many 
other superstitions, has an anecdote in his Miscd- 
lanies which, as characteristic of the times, is worth 
quoting: — 

^^ Arise Evans,^ he says, **had a fungous nose, 
and said it was reveal'd to him, that the King's hand 
would cure him: and at the first coming of King 
Charles IL in St. James's Park, he kiss'd the King's 
hand, and rubb'd his nose with it^ which disturb'd the 
King, but cured him**." 

There is something excessively ludicrous in this 
story. And we might fancy that the merry Monarch 
would cease for ever exercising his power when it 
was thus abused. Well might his voluptuous Majesty 
be " disturb'd," and much shocked, — and the more so, 
as we do not hear of any Lord Chamberlain being at 
hand with " basin, ewer, and towell." 

It is worthy of record, that William Beckett, a 
surgeon, and Fellow of the Royal Society, in his 
Free and impartial Enquiry into the antiquity and 
efficacy qf touching for the King's Evil, published in 
1722, endeavours by the most rational arguments to 
confute this belief. That it existed amongst men pos- 
sessed of high abilities, is proved by the fact that the 
Hon. Robert Boyle believed in the efficacy of the 
touch of Valentine Greatrix, who went by the name 

•• Evelyn's Diaryy Vol. i. p. 312. 

f Mitcellaniei, 8vo.' London, 1696, p. 101. 


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1660 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 91 

of Greatrix the Stroker'' ; and who was said to cure 
the evil, when the King even £uled^. The supposed 
coanetic virtues of May-dew, collected before sun-rise^ 
was another popular superstition ; which there is rea- 
son to apprehend had its origin from an allegory; 
by which some village Zadig attempted to induce the 

" See Boyle's Works, and PhiL Tran9.y No. 256, where his 
name is spelt as above. 

" Flamsteed went to Ireland for the purpose of being touched 
by Crreatriz. In his Autobiography he says, ^^ I was stroked by 
him all over my body, but found as yet no amends in anything, 
but what I had before." p. 16. 

There is a letter in the archiyes of the Society, from Greatrix 
to the Archbishop of Dublin, in which he thus describes the cir- 
cmmstances that led him to undertake curing by touch : '^ I was 
moyed by an impulse, which, sleeping or waking, in public or pri- 
vate, always dictated : I have given thee the gift of curing the 
Eling's evil. At first I wondered vnthin myself what the meaning 
thereof should be, and was silent : at length, I told my wife theieof, 
and that I had no quiet within myself for this impulse, and that 
I did verily believe that God had given me the power of curing 
the evil. She little regarded what I said, telling me only I had 
concdved a rich fancy. Soon after, such was the providence of 
God, one William Maher,' of the parish of Lismore, brought his 
son that had the evil in several places very grievous, and desired 
to know if I would cure him. Whereupon I went to my wife and 
told her she should now see whether my belief were a fancy or no, 
whereupon I put my hands on young Maher, desiring the help 
of the Lord Jesus, for his mercies' sake, whereupon the evil, which 
was as hard as]| possible for flesh and blood to be, dissolved and 
rotted within forty-four hours, run and healed, and so through God's 
mercy continues to this day." At first Greatriz merely touched the 
parts afifected ; but afterwards he^ made ^^ passes," or stroked the 
Embs of his patients, which led to his being called 'Qieatriz the 

We may appropriately add here, that the last person of note 
operated on in this way was Dr. Johnson; he was touched by 
Queen Anne in 1712. 


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92 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

maidens to attend to the wholesome observances of 
early rising and exercise. 

That some, at leasts of the Fellows of the Royal 
Society believed in this, appears from the fact, as will 
be seen in the sequel, that they were in the habit of 
going out at early morn, for the purpose of collecting 
the precious dew. 

The Virgula divina, or divining rod, had also its 
votaries; and many were the miles of ground tra- 
versed by credulous men in quest of that, which the 
science of geology has now enabled us to find with 
almost unerring certainty*. 

We might swell this list, but have said enough to 
show how much ignorance and credulity prevailed at 

* This snperstition had its votaries long after the establishment 
of the Royal Society. 

In the Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. xxi. I7^1i is a long and 
very curious paper ^* On the manner of using the Divining Rod," 
from which the following is an extract: **The most convenient 
and handy method of holding the rod, is with the palms of the 
hands turned upwards, and the two ends of the rod coming out" 
wards ; the palms should be held horizontally as nearly as possible ; 
the part of the rod in the hand ought to be straight, and not bent 
backward or forward. The upper part of the arm should be kept 
pretty close to the sides, and the elbows resting on them; the lower 
part of the arm making nearly a right angle with the upper, though 
rather a little more acute. The rod ought to be so held that in 
its working the sides may move clear of the little finger. But after 
all the directions that can be given, the adroit use of it can only 
be attained by practice and attention. A person who can use 
the rod tolerably may soon give the greatest sceptics sufficient satis- 
faction, except they are determined not to be eonvineed," 

See also a curious work on this subject entitled, Mhnoire Phy- 
eique et MSdicinale^ montrant lea rapporta emdena entre lea PhSno^ 
minea de la Baguette Divinatoire du Magn^tisme et de ^ElectricUey 
by M. Thouvenel. Paris, 1784. 


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J660— €5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 93 

the period of the institution of the Royal Society, 
amongst men of superior intellect and education '^. 
It was a labour well worthy the men who met avow- 
edly for the investigation and developement of truth, 
to inquire into these superstitions, and patiently and 
dispassionately to prosecute such experiments as should 
tend to eradicate them. It would indeed be difficult 
to over-estimate the great benefit that accrued to 
society by their destruction, and a lasting debt of 
gratitude is due to the Royal Society, for having 
been so essential an instrument in .dispelling such 
&tal errors'*. 

Let not the reader, therefore, when he smiles, as 
he assuredly will, at many of the seemingly absurd 
and ridiculous experiments tried by the Society, which 
he will find in the following pages, criticise them as 
mere folly, or the performances of empirics: — they 
were necessary to the welfare of science, — as much 
so as it is important to clear away a rotten founda- 
tion, ere a solid superstructure can be reared ; and it 
will be seen, how year after year errors were blotted 
out, and new facts and truths developed**. 

"" These superstitions were hy no means confined to English- 
men. The great Tycho Brahe, at the dose of the sixteenth century, 
was superstitiously anxious about presages. His biographers relate 
that, if he met an old woman on first going out of doors, or a hare 
on the road during a journey, he immediately turned back, from 
the persuasion of having met with an ill omen. 

" Sir Walter Scott, in his Demonology^ remarks, that the esta- 
blishmeni of the Royal Society tended greatly to destroy the belief 
in witchcraft and superstition generally. 

■■ £ngland in the seventeenth century was happily, however, 
more liberal and enlightened than the South American Republics 
in the nineteenth. Mr. Darwin states, that a German Natural 



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History Collector, left some caterpillars in a house at S. Femaado, 
under the charge of a girl to feed, that they might torn into hut- 
terflies. The anihorities conceived that the Professor dealt in heresy 
and witchcraft ; and accordingly, when he returned, he was arrested. 
Jour. p. 326. Had the English government looked with similar 
suspicion and ignorance on the early experiments of the Fellows of 
the Royal Society, half of them would have been tenants of the 


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Early Labours of the Society — Committee appointed to receive 
Experiments— Wren's Pendulum— Boyle's Air-Pump— Register 
Book opened — Questions sent to Tenerifi^— Charles II. sends 
Loadstones to the Society— -Eyelyn's Communications — ^Experi- 
ments made at the Tower — Glass Bubbles sent from the King-^ 
Sir Robert Moray elected President — Memoir of him Commu- 
nication respecting Barnacles — ^Time of Meeting determined 

Pecuniary Difficulties — Letter from Duke Leopold — Wren 
requested to make a Globe of the Moon for Charles II. — ^Boyle 
and Evelyn appointed Curators — Order to present Books to 
Society — Duke of Buckingham orders his Chemist to send 
Charcoal to the Society — Sir G. Talbot's Sympathetic Powder, 
and Cures — ^Virgula Diyina — Charles II. puts questions con- 
cerning the Sensitive Plant — ^Wren's paper on Saturn — ^The 
King sends pap e rs H our of Meeting changed from two to three 
p.m. — Genoese Ambassador visits the Society — Graunt dedi- 
cates his book to the Society — ^Unicorn's Horn — Society meet 
in Temple Church to see an Engine— Petition to the King — 
Incorporation of Society — Deputation to wait upon the King — 
Preamble to Charter. 


THE Society's Journal-books contain such curious 
evidence of their early labours, and the state of 
science at that period, as to render no apology neces- 
sary for devoting a few pages to them in this pl&ce. 

Under the date of December 19th, it is recorded, 
that — : 

•*Dr Petty and Mr. Wren be desired to consider 
the philosophy of Shipping, and bring in their thoughts 
to the company about it. 

" That every man of this company be desired to 
bring in such experiments to a committee to be ap- 


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96 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

poynted to that end, as he shall think most fit for the 
advancement of the general design of the Company. 

" That Dr. Wilkins, and as many of the Professors 
of Gresham Colledge as are of this Society, or any three 
of them, be a Committee for the receiving of all such 

" Mr. Wren, to bring in his accompt of the Pendu- 
lum experiment, with his explanation upon it, to be 

" December 26, It was ordered that Dr. Goddard 
be added to Dr. Petty and Mr, Wren for the experi- 
ments about Shipping ; and that Sir Kenelme Digby be 
desired to afford them his assistance. 

" That the persons above mentioned be desired to 
bring some experiment against the next day. 

'< Mr. Boyle, Mr. Oldenburg, Mr. Denham, Mr. Baw- 
lins, Mr. Ashmole, Mr. Evelyn*, and Mr. Henshaw, were 
proposed as members of the Society. 

" January 2, 1660 — 1. The Society again met, when 
Lord Brouncker was desired to prosecute the. experi- 
ments of the Becoyling of Gunns, and to bring it in 
ag^ainst the next meeting, and Mr. Boyle, his Cylinder^ 

^ Dr. Wilkinsy in bis Bnay toward* a Beal Character and a 
Philoiophical Language^ published 1668, says, that Sir G. Wren was 
the first to suggest the determination of a standard measure of 
length, by the vibration of pendulum. Sprat also gives Wren the 
credit of making this invention, for he says, ^* it was never before 

' Evelyn thus records his election into the Society : ^' I was now 
chosen by sufirage of the rest of the Members a Fellow of the Phi- 
losophic Society, now meeting at Gresham College, where was an 
assembly of divers learned gentlemen." Diary y Vol. i. p. 316. 

' This refers to his Air-pump, which, according to Professor 
Powell, ''he reduced to nearly its present construction." The 
reader will be interested to know that the original Air-pump alluded 


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I66p — 65.1^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 97 

** That Dr. Merritt be desired to bring in his history 
of Befineing. 

"That Mr. Boyle be desired to shew his experi- 
ments of the Air; Dr. Goddard, his experiments of 

" That Dr. Petty be desired to bring in diagrams of 
what he discoursed to the company this day ; and like- 
wise the history of the Building of Ships.'' 

On this day the first volume of the Register-book 
was opened, and the following questions proposed by 
Lord Brouncker and Mr. Boyle, for transmission to 
Teneriflfe, were agreed to, and duly registered. 

** Questions propminded and agreed upon to he sent to 
Teneriffe hy the Lord Brouncker and Mr. Boyle. 

" 1. Try the quicksilver experiment at the top, and 
at severall other ascents of the mountain, and at the end 
of the experiment upon the top of the hill, liit up the 
tube from the restagnant quicksilver somewhat hastily, 
and observe if the remaining mercury be impelled with 
the usual force, or not. And take by instrument (with 
what exactness may be), the true altitude of every place 
where the experiment is made, and observe at the same 
time the temperature of the air, as to heat and cold, by 
a weather-glass ; and as to moistures and dryness with 
a hydroscope, and note what sense the experimenters 
have of the air at those times respectively. 

" 2. Carry up bladders, some very little blown, some 
more, and others fiill blown, and observe how they alter 
upon the several ascents. 

to above, and constructed by Boyle, was presented to the Society by 
him in 1662, and still remains in their possession. It consists of 
two barrels. 

VOL. I. H 


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98 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

''3. Take up a statera, two balls of like substances, 
differing in weight or bignesse> and an open empty 
bottle, to the highest part of the hill, and there stop the 
bottle exactly well, and then weigh that, and the balls 
(each severally) with the statera there, and at the several 
ascents, and also below; and likewise the bottle again 
filled with the air below and stopped as before, noting 
the different weight of the stopper, if not exactly the 

"4, Try by an hour-glass, whether a pendulum-^ 
dock goeth faster or slower on the top of the hill than 

" 5. Try the power of a stone bow, or other spring, 
both above and below, and note well the difference. 

" 6. Make the experiment of two flat polisht marbles 
upon one another with a weight hanging at the lower, 
and carefully note the greatest weight that may be ap* 
plyed on the top of the hill, and also below. 

" 7. Try whether birds that fly heavily, or others 
dog'd with as much weight as they can well fly with 
below, can fly as well, better, or worse above. 

"8. Observe what alterations are to be found in 
living creatures carried thither, both before and after 
feeding, and what the experimenters doe find in them- 
selves as to difficulties of breathing, faintness of spirits, 
inclinations to vomit, giddinesse, &c. 

'* 9. Try to light a candle with a match, and fire 
some spirits of wine ; and observe if they bum upon the 
top of the hill, as well as below, and of what figures, 
colours, &c., the flames are. 

*' 10. Fire powder in a fusee, or otherwise, observe 
the manner of firing, the force of the powder, the motion 
of the smoak and the duration of it : the like of other 
combustible things as to flame, smoak, &c. 


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1660 — 65.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 99 

'^ 11. Carry up a viall of aqua-fortis, (or other smoak- 
ing liquor) and there open it, and observe whether the 
fumes aseend as much as they doe below. Quench lime 
at the top of the hill, and observe the degree of heat 
and duration of it, in respect to the Uke quenched 

" 12. Observe whether any vapours fasten in little 
drops to the outside of a vessel filled with snow and salt, 
and try the experiment of freezing with it. 

** 13. Carry to the top two or three bright pieces 
of iron or copper, and observe there, whether the air 
doth cause any beginning of rust in them. 

'' 14. Take some of the snow that lyes the highest 
upon the mountain, up to the top (if it may be), and 
observe what alteration is made thereupon by the air. 

" 16. Try whether a filter or a siphon will bring 
over liquors as well on the top of the hill as below. 

" 16. Observe the difference of sounds made by a 
bell, watch, gun, &c., on the top of the hill in respect 
to the same below. 

" 17. Observe diligently by a quadrant or double 
horizontally what variation the same needle hath both 
above and below. 

'' 18. Look upon the starrs (or the letters of a 
book at some certain distance) with a perspective glasse, 
as well above, as below (the air being clear), and observe 
accurately the best distance of the glasses in each 

" 19. Try if any difference may be found above in 
things to be smelt and tasted, from what they had 

" 20. Make an exact narrative of everything observ- 
able upon it, and where it is earthy, sandy, gravelly, &c.; 
what caves, precipices, windings and tiumings, &c.; what 


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100 raSTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

living creatures, plants, &c. ; and send over a little of 
every remarkable vegetable that may be found thereon* 

** 21. Beport the experiments, if conveniently they 
may, at both the solstices and equinoctes. 

^^22. Observe accurately the time of the sun's 
rising on the top of the hill and below, and note the 

The preceding " questions,*' as they are called, but 
which are rather a series of instructions, have been 
printed at length, not only on account of their intrinsic 
general interest, but also because they are the first 
measures taken by the Royal Society to procure 
authentic information of the natural history and phy- 
sical condition of foreign countries, respecting which 
the greatest ignorance prevailed. 

On the 9th January, Dr. Goddard was desired 
to bring in writing, his experiments of colours, and to 
produce what he had done with relation to the ana- 
tomy of trees ; and Mr. Evelyn was ordered to shew 
his catalogue of trades. At the meeting on the 16th 
January, the King sent two loadstones by Sir Robert 
Moray, with a message, ** that he expected an account 
from the Society of some of the most considerable 
experiments of that nature upon them.'' 

''The trial of these experiments was referred to 
Mr. Ball." 

Dr. Goddard presented the following Paper : 

A Brief Eocperimental Account qf the Prodtiction 
of some Colours by mixture of some liquors^ either 
having little or no Colour, or being of diffei^ent 
Colours from those 'produced. This Paper was ordered 
to be entered in the Register-book. 

* Register-book, Vol. i. pp. 1 — 3. 


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1660—65.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 101 

Mr. Evelyn was desired to bring in an history of 
engraving and etching^ 

It was ordered that the members of the Society 
belonging to Gresham College, together with Sir 
Robert Moray, and as many others as thought proper, 
be a committee for magnetical inquiries. 

At the next Meeting, on the 23rd January, Evelyn 
was desired to communicate his observations of the 
anatomy of trees*. Sir Kenelm Digby, to bring in 
writing his discourse made this day concerning the 
vegetation of plants. Dr. Petty, to deliver in his 
thoughts concerning the trade of clothing. Mr. 
Slingsby, to communicate his remarks upon the busi- 
ness of the Mint ; and Mr. Wilde, to show the experi- 
ment of the stone kindled by wetting. Several gen- 
tlemen were proposed as candidates — ^upon which it 
was :-^ 

"Kesolved, that no more be proposed till it be 
known whether any of those who were first named, and 
not in the list, were desirous of being admitted into the 
Society or not ; and that their particular acquaintance 
be desired, to learn their minds in that respect." 

The following Wednesday being the day appointed 
for a fast and humiliation for the death of King 
Charles I., there was no meeting of the Society. 

On the 6th February a committee was appointed, 
"to consider of proper questions to be inquired of in 
the remotest parts of the world." 

* Evelyn states in his Diary^ that he was recommended to pub« 
lish what he had written of Chalcography. 

' These were communicated on the 29th Jan. to the Society, 
in a letter to Dr. Wilkins, which is preserred in the first Tolmne 
of the Society's Letter-book, 


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102 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

Dr. Goddard appears to have presented his Paper 
at this meeting, entitled. Some Observations concern- 
ing the Texture and similar parts of the Body of 
a Treey which may hold also in Shrvibs and other 
Woody Plants. It will be found in Evelyn's Sylva. 

At the next Meeting the Danish ambassador visit- 
ed the Society. He was introduced by Evelyn ; and 
entertained by experiments made with Boyle's engine, 
&c. The same evening the Earl of Sandwich, one of 
His Majesty's privy council, was admitted a Fellow 
of the Society. 

" Feb. 20. Mr. Evelyn was desired to prepare oyl 
of sulphur, for the tryal of the experiment of its weight 
and bulk ; Dr. Merret to bring in an appendix to his 
Paper on the art of Befining, about Cementation, and 
the Antimony Home^. 

" Feb. 23. Experiments were made at the Tower 
of London on the weight of bodies increased in the 
fire ; an account of which being drawn up by Lord 
Brouncker, was registered, and afterwards printed in 
Sprat's History of ike Royal Society. 

" On the 25th Feb. it was resolved, in consequence 
of the increased number of experiments, that the 
amanuensis should attend every meeting-day, and that 
his salary be increased from 21, to 41. a-year. An essay- 
furnace was ordered to be built, and an accurate beam 
provided for the use of the Society." 

At the Meeting of the 4th March, the King sent 
five little glass bubbles, by the hand of Sir Paul Neile, 
in order to have the judgment of the Society concern- 
ing them. And, at a subsequent Meeting we find 

This Paper appears in the Phil. Trans., No. 142. 

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1660 — 65.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 103 

that '' the amanuensis produced the bubbles he was 
ordered to prepare, and they succeeded as those which 
the King sent of this kinde. Some of ours were sent 
by Sir Paul Neile to His Majesty." 

^ A committee was appointed to goe to the glass^ 
house at Woolwich, to enquire into the experiment of 
those solid bubbles the King sent, — viz. Sir Paul 
Neile, my Lord Brouncker, Mr. Slingsby, Mr, Bruce." 

At another Meeting, Sir Robert Moray laid before 
the Society a poisoned dagger, sent by the King, who 
had received it from the East Indies. '' The dagger was 
warmed, and with it blood was drawn from a kitten, 
to see whether it would be killed thereby. The kitten 
not dying whilst the Society were together, the ope- 
rator was appointed to observe what should become 
of it." At the Meeting in the following week the 
wounded kitten was produced alive. 

Sir Kenelm Digby^ related that " Dr. Dee, by a 
diligent observation of the weather for seven years 
together, acquired such a prognosticating skill of 
weather, that he was on that account accounted [a 
witch." The next entry records the following experi- 
ment by Sir William Persall : — 

" Take a handfull of the powder of Boman vitriol, put 
it into a galley-pot in a pint of water, put in two or 
three small irons the length of a span, and three >or four 
times a-day constantly stir the water and powder, and 
move not the irons at all, but let them stand constantly 
in night and day ; and within the space of three weekes 

* Digby delighted in the marvellous, and was, probably, the 
most superstitions of the early Fellows of the Society. It is related 
of him, that he fed his wife on capons fattened with the flesh of 
vipers, in order to preserve her beauty. 


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104 HISTORY OF [166O — 65. 

there will be erugted about the irons, as farre as they 
are in the water, a substance purer than copper, which 
you may take off, and will be malleable." 

The Minutes of the ensuing Meeting, which was 
held on the 6th March, inform us, that Sir Robert 
Moray was chosen President ; — and he was continued 
in this oflBce by several subsequent elections, though 
their dates are not always mentioned. In a letter 
addressed to M. de Montmor, dated July 22, 1661, 
Sir Robert Moray styles himself Societatis ad Tempm 
Prceses^. It appears, however, that he was the sole 
President of the Society until its incorporation; and 
his name is inserted as presiding at every meeting, 
with the exception of those when Dr. Wilkins occu- 
pied the chair ; but there is no mention of his having 
been elected President. 

Sir Robert Moray was therefore the first Presi- 
dent of the Society, and, in accordance with the 
design of this work, a brief memoir of him is here 

Sir Robert Moray was descended from an ancient 
and noble family in the highlands of Scotland. He 
was educated partly in the University of St. Andrew's, 
and partly in France, where, according to Burnet's 
History of his Own Time, he had afterwards a mili- 
tary employment in the service of Louis XIII., and 
gained a high degree of favour with Cardinal Riche- 
lieu. He attained the rank of colonel in the French 
army, and came over to England for recruits. At this 
period Charles I. was with the Scottish army at New- 
castle, and Moray became, by a variety of circum- 

• Letter-book, Vol. i. p. 1. 


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stances, so much attached to that unfortunate monarch, 
that in December, 1646, he contrived a plan for his 
escape '**• Burnet, in his Memoirs qf the Dukes of 
JJafniltofiy states that it was thus conceived: "Mr. Wil- 
liam Moray, afterwards Earl of Dysert, had provided 
a vessel which was to lie off Tynemouth, and to which 
Sir Robert Moray was to have conducted the King in 
disguise. Matters proceeded so far that the monarch 
dressed himself in the clothes provided for the pur* 
pose, and went down the back stairs of the house 
where he was living with Sir Robert ; but, apprehend- 
ing that it would be impossible to pass all the guards 
without being discovered, and conceiving that it would 
be highly indecent to be taken in such a condition, he 
changed his resolution and went back." 

Upon the Restoration, Charles II. made Sir R* 
Moray one of the privy council, and frequently con- 
sulted him on affairs of state. He was one of the 
first and most active members of the Royal Society, 
and, according to the historian before quoted, ''the 
life and soul of the body." He had the great plea- 
sure of being the. bearer of the message from the 
King, to the effect that his Majesty approved the 
objects of the Society, and was willing to encourage 
it, and was generally the organ of communication 
between the King and the Society. He was as assidu- 
ous as his friend Sir C. Wren in promoting its valu- 
able objects ; and their names are to be met with in 
almost every page of the early volumes of the Journal- 
books. He was nominated one of the council in the 

'^ Wood in the Athen* Oxon. says, that Sir R. Moray had been 
geaenl of the ordnance in Scotland against Charles I., when the 
piesbTterians of that kingdom first set up their covenant. 


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106 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

first and second charters of the Society. Authorities 
concur in assigning to him an extensive knowledge 
of natural philosophy and mathematics. Dr. Birch 
adds, that he was '* remarkably skilled in natural 
history.*' This may be true, applying the observation 
to the period in which he lived; but his knowledge as 
a naturalist would certainly gain him little credit at 
present. The reader will have an opportunity of 
judging of it, especially in one branch of zoology, in 
subsequent reports of the meetings. He made a great 
number of communications to the Society, ten of 
which are printed in the Transactions. Wood declares 
in the A then. Occon.^ that Sir Robert Moray was "an 
abhorrer of women.*' " This," says Dr. Birch, " is a 
gross mistake, for he married the sister of Lord Bel- 
Carres." All accounts agree in describing him as 
universally beloved and esteemed, and eminent for 
his piety; spending many hours a day in devotion, 
in the midst of armies and courts. Evelyn, who 
knew him well, calls him "an excellent man and 
admirable philosopher ;" and Dr. Birch, in his sketch 
of him, says, " He had an equality of temper that 
nothing could alter, and was in practice a Stoic, with 
a tincture of one of the principles of that sect, the 
persuasion of absolute decrees. He had a most dif- 
fused love to mankind, and delighted in every occa- 
sion of doing good, which he managed with great zeal 
and discretion." 

He died suddenly in his garden at Whitehall, on 
July 4, 1673 ; and was buried at the charge of Charles 
n., in Westminster Abbey, near the monument of 
Sir William Davenant. 

At the same meeting that Sir Robert Moray was 
elected President, he sent in a Paper entitled, A Re- 


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1660 — 65.'\ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 107 

lotion concerning Bamades^^. In this he declares, 
that when he was in the western islands of Scotland he 
saw multitudes of little shells adhering to trees, having 
within them little birds, perfectly shaped. He opened 
several of their shells, and found, as he states, nothing 
wanting for "making up a perfect sea-fowle." He 
honestly adds, however, that he jiever saw any of 
the birds alive, nor met with any person who did. 
Here we have the absurd notion of the Lepas Ana- 
ii/era breeding geese, brought before the Society by 
their President, in a Paper which was subsequently 
printed in the 137th No. of the Transactions^K 

On the 15th March Evelyn communicated to the 
Society a curious relation concerning Teneriffe : — and 
on the 20th March, it was " voted that the number of 
the Society be enlarged, and that the Gentlemen of 
the Colle<]^e be overseers for the accommoding the 
roome for the Society's meeting." 

'< March 25. Dr. Henshaw was desired to enquire of 
his brother concerning the boat that will not sink. 

'' Mr. Boyle was desir'd to bring in the name of the 
place in Brasill where that wood is that attracts fishes ; 

" Printed in the PhU. Traru., No. 142. 

" Hector Boyce, the Scottish historian, who died ahont the 
year 15.35, believed firmly in the story of the Barnacles. Scaliger, 
in one of his EpUtolWj published in 1627, ridicules Boyce's belief 
that the birds grew on trees. Nam ds conchis anati/eris fabula 
prorsui €»L NuUcb enim anateB ex conehis producuntur^ sed ex 
putredine vetiutorum navigiorum^ quUnu eonchoB adhwrent, anatea 
giKudofn ntuci certum eit. Etiam arhores anatifera$ esse in ultima 
Scotia, ubi mdlce proraus arbares iunt, haetenui mentiia est $erip^ 
torum vemUitae. It is just as easy to believe that birds grow 
upon trees, as that they are produced from rotten wood ; so that 
Scaliger's philosophy seems to have conducted him but a little way 
beyond the region of absolute credulity. 


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108 HISTOEY OP 1x660 — 65. 

and also of the fish that turns to the wind when 8us« 
pended by a thread. 

" March 27. To enquire whether the flakes of snow 
are bigger, or less in Tenerifie than here. 

" That adders be provided to try the experiment of 
the stone. 

" April 3. Dr. Petty was intreated to inquire in 
Ireland for the petrifaction of wood, the barnacles, the 
variation of the compass, and the ebbing and flowing of 
a brook. 

" Mr. Boyle presented his book concerning glass- 
tubes to the Society." 

At the next Meeting, on April 10, Lord Brouncker, 
Sir R. Moray, Sir Paul Neile, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Goddard, 
and Mr Wren, were appointed •' a committee to con- 
sider about all sort of tooles and instruments for 
glasses for perspectives for the Society on Fridays." 

"Ordered, that the Society meet no more but 
once a-weeke, and that it be on Wednesdays." 

It was " propounded that henceforward every one 
shall pay his contribution and arrears every Wednes- 
day." This is the first intimation of pecuniary diffi^ 
culties, which subsequently harassed the Society for 
a long time. — At the next meeting it is recorded, that 
the " Treasurer, or his deputy, be desired to call every 
day on the company for arrears." 

On the 8th May it was proposed that the Society 
write to Mr. Wren, and charge him from the King, to 
make a globe of the moone" 

'* This globe represented not only the spots and various degrees 
of whiteness upon the surface of the moon, but also the hills, emi- 
nences, and cavities, moulded in solid work. The King received 
the globe with peculiar satisfaction, and ordered it to be placed 


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l660 — 65.2 THE tlOYAL SOCIETY. 109 

A letter was received from the Duke Leopold, and 
a committee appointed to correspond constantly with 
that Prince. 

"Sir Bobert Moray was desired to write to the 
Jesuits at Liege about the making of copperas there. 

" Dr. Clarke was intreated to lay before the Society 
Mr. Pellin's relation of the production of young vipers 
from the powder of the liver and lungs of vipers. — Sir 

K. Digby promised such another under my Lord s 


" Dr, Clarke and Mr. Boyle were intreated to pro- 
cure an history of vipers." 

Here we have an excellent illustration of the 
ignorance of scientific men respecting the zoology 
of their own country, and at the same time evidence 
of an anxious desire to procure authentic information. 

At this Meeting a motion was made for the erec- 
tion of a library. 

" Mr. Boyle and Mr. Evelyn were appointed ciurators 
for the observing of insects, and to meet at Mr. Boyle's 

" May 15. It was resolved from henceforth that 
every member, as soon as he shall be admitted, shall 
pay, besides twenty shillings advancement, his weekly 
contribution from the time of his admission. 

" May 22. Col. Tuke was desired to bring, in writing, 
an account of what he related to the Society of the 
Academy at Paris". 

Among the curioeities of his cabinet. See Ward's Lives of the Gre^ 
iham Profeswrs^ p. 100. 

" This paper is presenred in the Register-hook (Vol i. p. 25), 
and is curious as giving one of the earliest accounts of the French 
Academy and the mode of conducting their meetings. 


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110 HISTORY OP [1660 — ^65. 

** Mr. Povey was intreated to send to Bantam for 
that poyson, related to be so quick as to tume a man's 
blood suddenly to gelly. 

" My Lord Northampton was intreated to make in- 
quiry *for Mr. Marshall's book of insects. 

" The Amanuensis was ordered to go to-morrow to 
Bosemary-lane, to bespeake two or three hundred more 
of the solid glasse balls. 

" May 28. It was resohed that every member, who 
hath published, or shall publish any work, giye the 
Society one copy. 

'' Dr. Clarke was intreated to bring in the experi- 
ment of iigections into the veins. 

" June 5. Col. Tuke related the manner of the rain 
like com at Norwich, and Mr. Boyle and Mr. Evelyn 
were intreated to sow some of those rained seeds to try 
their product. 

** Magnetical cures were then discoiursed of. Sir Gil- 
bert Talbot promised to bring in what he knew of 
sympatheticall cures. Those that had any powder of 
sympathy were desired to bring some of it at the next 

''Mr. Boyle related of a gentleman who having 
made some experiments of the ayre, essayed the quick- 
silver experiment at the top and bottom of a hill, when 
there was found three inches difference. 

"Dr. Charleton promised to bring in that white 
powder, which, put into water, heates it. 

^^The Duke of Buckingham promised to cause 
charcoal to be distill'd by his chymist. 

''His Grace promised to bring into the Society a 
piece of a unicome's home. 

" Sir Kenelme Digby related that the calcined powder 
of toades reverberated, applyed in bagges upon the 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 111 

stomach of a pestiferate body, cures it by severall appli- 

^' June 13. Col. Tuke brought in the history of the 
rained seeds which were reported to have fallen downe 
from heaven in Warwickshire and Shropshire, &c.^ 

** That the dyying engine be goeing forward with all 
speed, and the Treasurer to procure the lead and 

*' Ordered, that Fryday next the engine be tried at 

''June 26. Dr. Ent, Dr. Clarke, Dr. Goddard, and 
Dr. Whistler, were appointed curators of the proposition 
made by Sir G. Talbot, to torment a man presently with 
the sympatheticall powder. 

" Sir G. Talbot brought in his experiments of sym- 
pathetick cures." 

These are entered in the first volume of the 
Register-book. They are exceedingly curious as 
emblematic of the superstition of the times. The fol- 
lowing extract from the Paper, hitherto unpublished, 
will not be uninteresting. 

"An English mariner was wounded at Venice in 
four severall places soe mortally, that the murderer 
took sanctuary ; the wounded bled three days without 
intermission ; fell into frequent convulsions and swoun- 
ings, the chirurgeons, despayring of his recovery, forsook 

" The supposed graiiis of wheat tumed out, afiter due exami- 
nation, to be the seeds of ivy-berries deposited by starlings; thus 
one popular superstition was destroyed. 

^ Evelyn remarks in his Diary, under the date of July 19, 
** We tried our Diving Bell in y* Water Dock at Deptford, in 
which our Curator continued half-an-hour : it was made of cast lead, 
let down by a strong cable." 


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112 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

him. His comrade came to me, and desired me to 
demand justice from the Duke upon the murderer (as 
supposing him ahready dead) ; I sent for his bloud and 
dress'd it, and bad his comrade haste back and swathe 
up his wounds with cleane linnen. He lay a mile distant 
from my house, yet before he could gett to him, all his 
wounds were closed, and he began visibly to be com- 
forted. The second day the mariner came * to me, and 
told me his friend was perfectly well, but his spirits soe 
exhausted, he durst not adventiure soe long a walke. The 
third day the patient came himself to give me thanks, 
but appeared like a ghost ; noe bloud left in his body ^^." 

Incredible as it seems, yet this relation of Sir G. 
Talbot, who, be it remembered, held high oflSces under 
the crown, was believed; and, as some proof of this, it 
may be adduced, that a minute in the Journal-book, 
under the same date as the above, informs us ; — that 
" Mr. Evelyn was intreated to bring in next day that 
powder of simpathie he has of Sir Gilbert Talbot's 

But such superstition soon gave way before the 
test of experiments, and it speaks well for the little 
band of philosophers that they were not backward in 
putting deep-rooted beliefs to the severest trials. 

Thus, under the date of July 10, it is recorded, 
that "The fresh hazell-sticks were produced, where- 
with the divining experiment was tried, and found 

July 17. The King having desired to know "why 
the humble and sensitive plant stirs, or draws back, 
at the touching of it," a committee was appointed to 
report upon the fact. At this Meeting the first 

»' P. 31. 


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I66a — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 113 

Tolume of the lietter-book was opened, to register a 
copy of a letter addressed by the Society to the French 
Academy, requesting the interchange of scientific 
eo^ununications^^ At the next Meeting : — 

July 24. " A circle was made with powder of uni- 
come's horn, and a spider set in the middle of it, but it 
immediately ran out severall times repeated. The spider 
once made some stay upon the powder. 

July 31. "Dr. Wilkins made his experiments of blown 
bladders, the account of which was registered '^ 

" Mr. Croune produced a glass jar full of the powder 
of the bodies of vipers, and a gallipot full of the powder of 
only the hearts and livers of vipers. 

" Dr. Wilkins was desired to procure pipes of several 
bores to be made, for the experiment of blowing up 

August 7. " Mr. Palmer brought in a powder re- 
ported to be that of a plant which was brought a hundred 
miles beyond Moscow, said to be used there for ulcers*^. 

August 14. "Sir Bobert Moray brought in glass* 
drops, an account of which was ordered to be registered*^ 

August 21. "Dr. Clarke brought in and read his 
account of the humble and sensible plants, which was 
ordered to be registered^." 

The Meetings from this time to the close of the 

^ The letter, and answer of the Academy, will be found in the 
Letter- book. 

** This relates to the power of raising heavy weights with 
bladders inflated by the breath. 

* Register-book, Vol. i. p. B6, 

*^ These glass-drops are the well-known Prince Rupert's Drops. 
The first volume of the Register-book contains a long account 
of them and their manuflEicture. 

*• Register-book, Vol. i. p. 90. 

VOL. I. I 


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114 HISTORY OF >^« [1660 — 65. 

year, were occupied by several eKperimenis, now of 
minor interest. At that on the 9th of October, the 
Society received a present of a living chameleon ; and 
Wren read his hypothesis of Saturn, contained in a 
letter to Lord Brouncker, which is preserved in the 
first volume of the Letter-book. After the reading of 
Wren's letter, one was communicated from Christian 
Huygens, dated at the Hague, 24th July, 1661, con- 
taining some observations on Saturn: this is also 
preserved in the Letter-book. It is worthy of remark 
that, in this communication, Huygens states that the 
members of the French Academy were excited by emu- 
lation of the Society of London, and purposed applying 
themselves to philosophical experiments; and he adds, 
this is " a good effect produced by your example." 

At the Meeting on the 21st August : — 

" Mr. Boyle presented the Society with his booke of 
Aire in Latine. 

August 28. '' Mr. Oldenburg read a pari of a letter 
come from Mr. Borry, concerning the making of Incom- 
bustible Wood. 

Sept. 4. " Sir K. Digby brought in a letter from a 
friend of his in Florence, written in 1656, which treats 
of a petrified city and inhabitants^. 

* Register-book, Vol. i. This city was supposed to be in 
Africa. See MS. letter in the Royal Society archives, from Hartlib 
to Boyle, in which the writer expresses his strong belief in this 
story. Captain Smyth's private Journal^ printed in Beechey^s Afri* 
can Expeditwn^ pp. 504—512, contains an account of this tradi-* 
tion. Mr. Hartlib was one of the most credulous, in that credulous 
period; for in the same letter he gives an account of a child, 
whose mother drank petrifying waters, being petrified in the womb, 
and adds, that the stone which was taken out was a lasting montt-> 
ment of the fact. 


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1660 — 65. THE ROTAL SOCIETY, 115 

"Some papers were delivered in by Sir P. Neile 
from the King, and endorsed by His Majesty's own 
band: they were about Mr. Hobbes' mean proportionalls^. 

Sept. 18. " It was voted that the petition Sir R. 
Moray read to the company, be delivered to the King 
in the Society's name*^. 

" Mr Boyle brought in his account, in writing, of the 
experiment hee made of the compression of aire with 
quicksilver in a crooked glasse tube, and ordered to be 

At the two subsequent Meetings, various experi- 
ments were tried and discussed ; it was also debated, 
whether the hour of meeting should be altered from 
3 in the aflemoon to 9 in the morning ; — but although 
no entry respecting the alteration occurs in the Jour- 
nal-book, it appears by a MS. letter to Boyle, pre- 
served in the archives of the Society (No. 18 Coll. of 
Letters), that no change took place. On the 16th 
October, Sir R. Moray acquainted the Society that; — 

" He and Sir Paul Neile kiss'd the King's hand in 
the Company's name, and he was desired by them to 
return their most humble thanks to his Majesty for the 
reference he was pleased to grant of their Petition, and 
for the favour and honour done them of offering to be 
entered one of the Society." 

** The pToblems, with Lord Bronncker's solution, are entered in 
the Register-book, Vol. i. p. 99. 

** This Petition, Evdyn tells us, was praying the King for his 
Royal grant authorimng the Society to meet as a corporation, vith 
several privileges. A diligent search in the State Paper Office for 
this document^ has been, I regret to say, unsuccessful, and Mr. 
Lechmere informs me, that no Petitions exist in that establishment 
of an earlier date than Oct. 1662. 



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116 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

Oct. 23. "Dr. Goddard was desired to give an 
account of his dissection of the Chameleon^. 

" Mr. Croune read an account of Mercuriall Experi- 
ments Mr. Power made at the bottom and top of Hali- 
fax hiU. 

Not. 13. "Dr. Goddard communicated an account 
of the ^xperimetits of the stone called Ooulus Mundu 
which being transparent, was heavier than when it was 

" The Doctor was intreated to try more experiments 
upon it. 

Nov. 20. " Dr. Wilkins read his paper for a Natural 

Nov. 27. " Sir Wm. Petty" brought in his ffistory of 

This paper appears at length in the Register- 
book ; it gives a detailed description of the manufac- 
turing of various cloths, and is illustrated by several 
curious drawings, which are in the archives of the 

Dec. 4. " Sir Robert Moray was desired to bring 
in his Engine for hearing. 

" Mr. Powle promised to bring in an account of Iron, 
from the ore to the bar. 

"Mr. Ellis promised to inquire into the making of 

"The Amanuensis produced serpents, which being 
fired and cast in the water, burnt there to the bounce." 

On the 1 1th Dec. an entry was made in the Jour- 
nal-book, thanking Evelyn for having ** done honour 

•• See PhiL Tram., VoL xi. p. 930. 

■^ Printed in Dr. Sprat's History. 

" He had been knighted on the 11th ApriL 


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1660 — 65.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 117 

to the company in an excellent panagyrick to the 
King's Majesty**, and since in an epistle dedicatorie, 
addressed to the Lord Chancellorum^, in which the 
Company and its design are most affectionately re- 
commended to the King and his Lordship." 

The Society adjourned for a fortnight at Christ- 
^mas, and resumed their Meetings in January. 

Jan. 8, 1661 — 2. "Mr. Evelyn read an account of 
the making of Marbled Paper, which was ordered to be 

Jan. 29. " Sir W. Petty promised to bring in against 
next day his observations on the Pendulum's Vibration 
for measure. 

" The Lord Embassadour of Genoa gave the Society 
a visite, and was entertain'd with the sight of Mr. Boyle's 
Engine for the Exsuction of Aire. 

Feb. 6. " Dr. Whistler brought in a book of Obser- 
Tations on the Bills of Mortality, and read the epistle 
dedicatory thereof (to Sir E. Moray, President) — ^from 
Mr. Graunt ; who sent fifty copies of the book to be dis- 
tributed among the members of the Society ; for which 
thanks were returned to him, and he was proposed as a 

Dr. Sprat, in his History, alludes to Mr. Graunt 
as having been recommended to the Society by the 
King. " In whose election," says he, " it was so farr 
from being a prejudice that he was a shopkeeper of 
London, that his Majesty gave this particular charge 

*• Evelyn presented this Panegyric (which was a poem upon 
His Majesty's coronation) to the King on the 24th April. 

'^ This alludes to his translation of Naudeeus concerning libraries, 
which Evelyn says, was " miserably false printed." 


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118 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65- 

to his Society, that if they found any more such 
tradesmen, they should be sure to admit them all, 
without any more ado." Graunt's dedication is very 
curious; he styles the Royal Society "the King's 
Privy Council for Philosophy, and his great Council 
for the three Estates of Mathematics, Mechanics, and 
Physics." ^ 

May 14. " Mr. Southwell produced a great horn, 
said to be a unicorn's, and also shewed a little one that 
grew on a cock's head, being the spur of the fowle, cutt 
dose till it Ued, and sett on the head immediately after 
the comb was taken off (and it being squeez'd on, and a 
few ashes strow'd thereon to quence y® blood), when the 
cock was fresh capon'd. 

June 11. '* Mr. Evelyn presented the Society with 
a book call'd the History of Chakography^^. 

July 2. ** Ordered, that the committee to view Mr. 
Toogood'B engine doe meet on Saturday next, at two of 
the clock, in the Temple Church"." 

On the 9th July the first intimation of the incor^ 
poration of the Society by Charles 11., was given by 
Lord Broimcker annoimcing to the meeting, that Sir 
Heneage Finch, his Majesty's Solicitor-General, had 
refused the fees to which he was entitled for signing 
the docket of the bill prepared by him. A committee 
was appointed to wait upon the Solicitor-General, 
and present him with the thanks of the Society. On 
the 18th Aug. the Journal-book records that ^' Let- 

*' Its title is /SeulpturOf or the History of Chakography^ 8vo. 
London, 1662. 

" What would the Benchers of the present day think of their 
beautiful church being made a place of meeting for the trial of ex* 
periments ? Yet this occurred not unftequently at the above period. 


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ters Patent for the incorporation of the Society were 
read by Mr. Oldenburg ; and it was voted that the 
President, attended by the Council, and as many of 
the Society as can be obtained, shall wait upon his 
Majesty, after his coming from Hampton Court to 
London, to give him humble thanks for his grace and 
&vour, and, in the mean time, the President is to 
acquaint the King with their intention; and that 
afterwards my Lord Chancellor is to be thanked like- 
wise, and Sir Robert Moray, for his concern and care 
in promoting the constitution of the Society into a 

The King had evinced considerable interest in the 
Society from the time that he was first apprised of 
its formation. " When," says Dr. Sprat, '* the Society 
addressed themselves to his Majestic, he was pleas'd 
to express much satisfaction that this enterprize was 
begun in his reign : he then represented to them the 
gravity and difficulty of their work, and assured them 
of aU the kind influence of his power and prerogative. 
Since that, he has frequently committed many things 
to their search : he has referred many forein rari- 
ties to their inspection : he has recommended many 
domestick improvements to their care: he has de- 
manded the result of their trials, in many appearances 
of nature : he has been present, and assisted with his 
own hands at the performing of many of their experi- 
ments in his gardens, his parks, and on the river. 
And besides, I will not conceal that he has some- 
times reprov'd them for the slonmess of their proceed- 
ings : at which reproofs they have not so much cause 
to be afflicted, that they are the reprehensions of a 
King, as to be comforted that they are the reprehen- 
sions of his love and affection to their progress. For 


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120 * HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

a testimony of which royal benignity, and to free 
them from all hindrances, he has given them the 
establishment of his Letters Patents^.'' 

It is stated that the draught of the preamble to 
the Charter was prepared by Wren, at the request of 
his brother philosophers. It runs thus : — 

" Whereas amongst our Royal hereditary titles, to 
which, by Divine Providence and the loyalty of our good 
subjects, we are now happily restored, nothing appears 
to us more august or more suitable to our pious dis- 
position, than that of father of our country, a name of 
indulgence as well as dominion, wherein we Would imitate 
the benignity of heaven, which in the same shower 
yields thunder and violets, and no sooner shakes the 
cedars, but dissolving the clouds, drops fatness : — ^We 
therefore, out of paternal care of our people, resolve, 
together with those laws which tend to the well adminis- 
tration of government and the people's allegiance to us, 
inseparably to join the supreme law of Solus PoptUi, that 
obedience may be manifestly not only the public, but 
the private felicity of every subject, and the great con- 
cern of his satisfactions and ei\]oyments in this life. The 
way to so happy a government we are sensible is in no 
manner more facilitated, than by promoting of useful 
arts and sciences, which, upon mature inspection, are 
found to be the basis of civil communities and free 
governments, and which gather multitudes by an Orphean 
charm into cities, and connect them in companies ; that 
so, by laying in a stock as it were of several arts and 
methods of industry, the whole body may be supplied by 
a mutual commerce of each other's peculiar faculties, 
and, consequently, that the various miseries and toils of 

^ HiiU Royal Society, p. 133. 


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1660 — 65.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 121 

this frail Ufe^ may be, by as many various expedients 
ready at hand, remedied, or alleviated, and wealth and 
plenty diffused in just proportion to every one's industry, 
that is, to every one's deserts. 

"And, whereas we are well informed, that a com- 
petent number of persons, of eminent learning, ingenuity, 
and honour, concording in their inclinations and studies 
towards this employment, have for some time accustomed 
themselves to meet weekly, and orderly, to confer about 
the hidden causes of things, with a design to establish 
certain, and correct uncertain theories in philosophy, 
and by their labours in the disquisition of nature, to 
prove themselves real benefactors to mankind ; and that 
they have already made a considerable progress by 
divers useful and remarkable discoveries, inventions, and 
experiments in the improvement of mathematics, me- 
chanics, astronomy, navigation, physic, and chemistry, 
we have determined to grant our Boyal favour, patronage, 
and all due encouragement to this illustrious assembly, 
and so beneficial and laudable an enterprize." 

It is not difficult to conceive that the King must 
have smiled at some parts of this preamble, but its 
language is, however, quite in keeping with the ad- 
dresses, petitions, &c. of the day. 

The Charter of Incorporation passed the great seal 
on the 15th of July, 1662, and was read before the 
Society on the 13th of August following**. 

A copy of this important document will be found 

•* Evelyn records in his Diary under this date, " Our Charter 
being now passed under the broad seal, constituting us a corporation 
under the name of the Royal Society, for the improvement of 
natural knowledge, was this day read, and was all that was done 
this afternoon, being very large." Vol. i. p. 337- 


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in the Appendix'*. Sprat says, alluding to the Char- 
ter : *^ This is the Legal Ratification which the Royal 
Society has receiv'd. And in this place I am to 
render their publick thaixks to the Bight Honourable 
the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Chancellor of England, 
to Sir Jefiiy Palmer, Attorney-General, and to Sir 
Heneage Finch, Solicitor-General; who by their 
cheerful concurrence, and firee promotion of this 
confirmation, have wip'd away the aspersion that has 
been scandalously cast on the profession of the law, 
that it is an enemy to learning and the civil arts. To 
shew the falsehood of this reproach, I might instance 
many judges and counsellors of all ages, who have 
been the ornaments of the sciences, as well as of the 
bar and courts of justice. But it is enough to declare 
that my Lord Bacon was a lawyer, and that these 
eminent officers of the law have compleated this foun- 
dation of the Royal Society, which was a work well 
becoming the largeness of his wit to devise, and the 
greatness of their prudence to establish^." 

"* It will be Docessftry for the reader unaoquainted with the 
Charter, to peruse it before proceeding to the next Chapter, in order 
that he may form a correct idea of the progieBS of the Society. 

"^ ITut. Royal Society, p. 144. 


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Memoir of Lord Brouncker — ^The Society founded for Improve- 
ment of Natural Knowledge— Explanation of the term — ^The 
Societj return thanks to the King — ^Their Addr coo Cowley's 
Ode to the Society—- Incorporation of Society, a daim of re- 
spect to the memory of Charles II. — The King proposes to 
endow the Society with lands in Ireland— Duke of Ormonde, 
the manager of Irish Afiaira — ^His political intrigues — Lord 
Brouncker addresses his Grace respecting the Society's claims- 
Lands intended for the Society granted to other parties — 
Sir William Potty's estimate of their value — First Statutes 
enacted — Experiments vigorously prosecuted — Hooke appointed 
Curator — His great zeal and energy— Second Charter. 


IT will be observed, that the Charter of Incorpora- 
tion appoints Lord Brouncker President of the 

In yarious sketches of the life of this Nobleman, 
it is stated that he was bom cUxmt the year 1622; 
but through the kindness of Richard Brouncker, 
Esquire, of Boveridge, in Dorsetshire, who has sup- 
plied the pedigree of the Brounckers, of which 
family he is the living representative, I am enabled 
to show that Lord Brouncker was bom in 1620. He 
was the son of Sir William Brouncker, Knight, gen- 
tleman of the Privy Chamber to Charles I., and 
Vice-chancellor to Charles IL, when Prince of Wales, 
who was created Baron Brouncker of Newcastle, and 
Viscount Brouncker of Castle Lyons, Ireland, on the 
12th of Sept. 1645. He had a grant for his ser- 
vices, of the monastery of Clonnis, in the county 


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124 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

Monaghan. His son, the second Viscount, and the 
subject of this memoir, after receiving the usual pre- 
paratory education, was sent at the age of sixteen to 
the university of Oxford, where he made himself a 
proficient in several languages, and acquired an excel- 
lent knowledge of mathematics, and of other impor- 
tant sciences. He then entered on the study of 
natural philosophy and medicine, and displayed so 
much ability in the latter, as to obtain the degree of 
Doctor of Physic in the university of Oxford, in 1646. 
But his tastes led him to follow mathematical studies 
in preference to any other, and to these he applied 
himself with great diligence \ In 1657, he was 
engaged in a correspondence with Dr. Wallis, which 
appeared in the Commercium Epistolicutn, Oxford 
1658. 4to. He made two remarkable mathematical 
discoveries, being the first to introduce continued 
fractions*, and to give a series for the quadrature of 
a portion of the equilateral hyperbola*. He con- 
tributed several valuable papers to the Philosophical 
Transactions ; and translated an essay by Descartes, 
entitled Musicce Compendium^ which was published 
without the translator's name, but as the work of " a 
person of honour*." With others of the nobility and 
gentry who adhered to Charles I., he signed the 
memorable declaration in 1660, in which General 

* Haygens, in a letter to Oldenburg, preserved in the archives, 
congratulates the Society on having so eminent a mathematician for 
their President as Lord Brouncker. 

■ WaUis, Works, Vol. i. p. 469. 

* Phil 7Van*.,No.34. 

* Hawkins' HisU of Music. 


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1660 — 65.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 125 

Monk was acknowledged the restorer of the laws and 
privileges of these nations*. 

After the Restoration, he was appointed Chancellor 
of the Queen Consort ^ and Keeper of her great seal; 
he was also one of the Commissioners for executing 
the office of Lord High Admiral, and Master of St. 
Catherine's Hospital, near the Tower of London. This 
he obtained in 1681, after a long equity suit with 
Sir Robert Atkins, one of the Justices of the Common 

He was created President of the Royal Society by 
their first Charter, dated July 15, 1662, and held the 
office until 1677^ 

During his Presidency he exhibited great zeal in 
the performance of all the duties attached to that 
distinguished office^. He was always prepared to 
devote his time to experiments, and ready to make 
such improvements upon them as were suggested by 
his penetration and skill. His devotion to the Royal 
Society entitles him to the greater praise, as his high 

« Rennet's E^., foL p. 120. 

' The warrant for this appointment is in the State Paper Office. 
It bears date April 18, 1662, and gives Lord Brouncker a salary 
of 50/. a yeaa, and 41. per annum for his livery. 

^ Sprat says, ^^This office was annually renewed to him by 
election, out of the true judgment which the Society made of his 
great abilities in all natural and especially mathematical know- 

' Lord Brouncker was one of the most active promoters of the 
Royal Society. Evelyn states, " That Brouncker, Boyle, and Sir 
R. Moray, were above all others the persons to whom the world 
stands obliged for the promoting of that generous and real know- 
ledge which gave the ferment which has ever since obtained, and 
surmounted all those many discouragements which it at first encoun- 
tered." Diary, Vol. n. p. 304. 


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126 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

state offices required a large amount of his attention 
and time. 

He died at his house in St James's Street, on the 
5th April, 1684, and was buried in a vault in the 
hospital of St. Catherine. In default of issue, the 
title passed to his brother Henry, formerly Cofferer to 
Charles I., who died in January 1687. A portrait of 
Lord Brouncker by Sir Peter Lely, presented to the 
Society by his Lordship, hangs in their meeting-room. 

The Charter states, that the Royal Society was 
founded for the improvement of Natural Krumledge. 
Dr. Paris, it is believed, was the first person who 
drew attention to the sense (in this instance) of the 
word naiuraL In his Life of Sir Humphry Davy^ 
he says, " This epithet natural was intended to imply 
a meaning, of which very few persons, I believe, are 
aware. At the period of the establishment of the 
Society, the arts of witchcraft and divinations were 
very extensively encouraged; and the word natural 
was therefore introduced in contradistinction to super- 
natural." Sprat, in his History of the Society^ con- 
firms this view by the passages in which he mentions 
" Eccperiments of natural things as not darkening our 
eyes, nor deceiving our minds, nor depraving our 
hearts ;" and in another place he talks of the Society 
"following the great precept of the Apostle, of trying 
all things^ in order to separate superstition from 

The Incorporation of the Society by Royal Charter 
gave the Fellows great satisfaction, nor were they 

* It is worthy of notice, that in all the original drafts of 
letters, &c. existing in the British Musenm, tlie word natuxid has 
been carefully added, when forgotten in the first instance. 


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1660 — 65.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 127 

long in testifying their sense of the King's gracious 
favour ; for on the 29th August, the President, Coun- 
cil, and Fellows^ went to Whitehall, and returned 
their thanks to his Majesty for the Patent granted 
to them. 

The Address was as follows : — 

" May it please your Majesty, 

We, your M^'esty's most loyal subjects, newly 
incorporated by your Majesty's Charter, and honoured 
with the name of the Boyal Society, do, with aU 
humility, present ourselves before your Majesty the Koyal 
foimder thereof, to offer you our most hearty thanks, 
as the only way we have at present to express our deep 
sense of your Majesty's grace and favour to us, and to 
assure your Majesty of our constant veneration for your 
sacred person, our devotion to your Majesty's service, 
and our firm resolution to pursue sincerely and unani- 
mously the end for which your M^'esty hath founded 
this Society, the advancement of the knowledge of 
natural things, and aU useful arts by experiments. A 
design, Sir, that is deservedly counted great and glorious, 
and is universally reputed to be of that advantage to 
mankind, that your Majesty is highly admired and ex- 
tolled for setting it on foot ; and this Society is already 
taken notice of, and famous throughout all the learned 
parts of Europe, and doubtless in time wiU be much more 
by the continuance of your Migesty's gracious favour, 
and the happy success of their endeavours, to the great 
increase of the fame of your Majesty's prudence, which 
hath justly intitled you to the honour of laying the first 
foundation of the greatest improvement of learning and 
arts, that they are capable of, and which hath never 
heretofore been attempted by 'any ; so that men cannot 


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128 HISTOEY OP [1660—65. 

now complain that the favour and assistance of a potent 
Monarch is wanting to this long wished for enterprize. 
And, Sir, our assurance of this your Majesty's favour 
and assistance is that which gives vigour to our resolu- 
tions, and is the life of our hopes, that in due season 
we shall be able to make your Majesty an acceptable 
present of choice and useful experiments, and accomplish 
your great design, being thereto engaged by so many 
powerful motives. 

" And in the mean time, we shall daily pray that God 
will be eminently gracious to your Mcyesty, and accumu- 
late upon you all the blessings answerable to the large- 
ness of your heart, the height of your condition, the 
weight of your charge, the multitude of your virtues, 
and the desires and wishes of all your faithful sub- 

Evelyn states in his Diary ^ that his Majesty gave 
a gracious reply to the above Address, and that the 
President and Fellows kissed the King's hand. On 
the following day, the same deputation waited upon 
the Lord Chancellor, who was addressed by the 
President, and thanked for the great interest he had 
evinced towards the Society. 

Thus, was the Invisible College of Boyle, and the 
ideal Philosophical College of Evelyn, incorporated 
by Royal Charter ; and from a few philosophers and 
lovers of science, meeting here and there as the times 
permitted, grew a Society, that soon acquired a sta- 
bility which two centuries have not weakened. 

This royal recognition of philosophy gave sincere 
satisfaction to all lovers of science, and called forth 
the muse of Cowley, who wrote an Ode to the Royal 
Society ; a few extracts from which will not be out of 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 129 

place here. It opens by lamenting the length of time 
that Philosophy lay neglected, until — 

*^ Bacon at last, a mighty man, arose, 

(Whom a wise King, and nature chose 
Lord Chancellour, of both their lawes,) 
And boldly undertook the injured pupils' cause." 

The poet then goes on to state that the great 

** led us forth at last, 

The barren wilderness he past; ' 

Did on the very border stand 

Of the blest promis'd land ; 
And, from the mountain's top of his exalted wit, 

Saw it himself, and shew'd us it." 

The Society is then apostrophized : 

"From you, great champions, we expect to get 
The spacious countries but discover'd yet; 
Countries where yet instead of nature, we 
Her images, and idols^ worshipp'd see: 
These large and wealthy regions to subdue, 
Though learning has whole armies at command, 

Quarter'd about in every land, 
A better troop she ne'er together drew; 

Methiiiks^ like Gideon's little band, 
God with design has pick'd out you 

To do these noble wonders by a few. 

• •♦*•• 

Mischief and true dishonour &11 on those 
Who would to laughter or to scorn expose 
So virtuous and so noble a design. 
So human for its use, for knowledge so divine." 

It has been asserted that the Incorporation of the 
Royal Society was the only wise act of Charles 11. 
It is not our province to enter on this question ; but 
it may truly be said, that this act entitles his Majesty 
to be remembered with great respect and esteem, as 
by it he testified his love for science, and his desire 
for the advancement of truth and knowledge. 

VOL. I. K 


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130 HISTOBY OF [1660 — 65. 

But his interest in the young Institution did not 
terminate here; for on the 17th September, 1662, it 
appears by the Register-book, that the King addressed 
a letter, with his own hand, to the Duke of Ormond, 
then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, recommending the 
Royal Society "for a liberall contribution from the 
adventurers and officers of Ireland, for the better 
encouragement of them in their designes." 

As this was the first instance of any pecuniary 
support being promised to the Society, it will not be 
uninteresting to give some account of the manner in 
which Charles the Second proposed carrying his inten- 
tions into execution; his own funds being wholly 
inadequate for the purpose. It will be remembered 
that the soldiers and adventurers, as they were called, 
who had served in Ireland under Cromwell, became 
landed proprietors; but, upon the Restoration, the 
King published his declaration, which constituted a 
basis for the new settlement of the landed property 
of the country. This document, after vesting all the 
confiscated property in the King, confirmed the adven- 
turers and soldiers in the lands already granted to 
them. The estates of Protestants were to be restored 
to the owners, as likewise lands formerly belonging to 
"innocent Papists;" but the qualifications necessary 
for a Roman Catholic to claim the benefit of this 
clause were such, as to make it almost impossible for 
any person of this religious persuasion to establish 
his rights. All estates belonging to persons who 
took any part in the trial or execution of Charles I. 
were declared confiscated. 

Thus the settlement of landed property became 
a work of great difficulty, and one offering many 
opportunities for the exercise of bribery and corrup- 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROTAL SOCIETY. 131 

tion. Lord Ormond was appointed the principal 
manager of Irish affairs, but the contentions and 
jealousies of innumerable parties ran so high, that 
the interference of Parliament became necessary. 
The Irish Parliament, however, could only frame the 
heads of a general Bill for the apportioning of the 
lands, which was liable to be altered and modified by 
the King and Council in England. 

Thither, therefore, all parties interested, repaired 
or sent agents, to urge and defend their respective 
clwns'^ London became the scene of controversy, 
intrigue, cabal, and even violence. A Bill was even- 
tually passed ; and Ormond, now elevated to the rank 
of Duke, was sent back to Ireland, to settle in the 
most amicable possible manner the conflicting claims 
of all parties. Justice, however, had little to do in the 
matter ; and this is evident from the fact, that upwards 
of three thousand ancient Irish families were stripped 
of their fortunes, without even having their claims 
inquired into. And we are informed that the Duke of 
Ormond's estates, which bef^re the breaking out of 
the civil war only yielded £7000 per annum, after the 
adjudication of the lands brought him in a yearly 
income of £80,000. 

This brief statement will suffice to show how poor 
a chance the Royal Society had of coming in for a 
portion of these ** fractions,** as they were called, when 
high families were cheated of their rights. On the 
3rd Jan. 1662 — 3, the President (Lord Brouncker) 

^^ The Journals of the House of Commons of this period con- 
tain a ffCBi number of petitions presented by individuals for grants 
of lands in Ireland ; I cannot, howeyer, find any such document 
Irom the Royal Society. 



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132 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

addressed the Duke of Ormond respecting the King's 
grant of lands in Ireland to the Society. The letter 
is of considerable interest : 

Landany Jan. 3, 1662 — 3. 
"My Lord, 

"I AM desired by the Royal Society 
in their names to entreat your Grace's favour and coun« 
tenance in the effectual settlement of the Fractions of 
Adventures, Arrears, Lands, &c., which, by the Act, for 
the better execution of his Migesty's gracious declara* 
tion, &c., were vested in his Msgesty in trust for, and 
the better to enable his Miyesty to grant the same to 
them : so as his Miyesty being their founder, might also 
be their chief benefactor. In pursuance whereof his 
Majesty was pleased, by his private letters under his own 
hand in October last, to recommend the same unto you: 
and thereafter, some in behalf of the clergy of that 
kingdom made their application unto his Miyesty for 
the same : but his Miyesty, well remembering his promise 
to grant the same to the Society, was pleased to put a 
stop unto their addresses, and by his letters in the same 
month of October last under his royal signet, was fur- 
ther graciously pleased to direct your Grace to pass a 
g^ant of the said Fractions unto Mr. Robert Boyle, and 
Sir Robert Moray, for the use of the said Society. And 
understanding that afterwards Sir Allen Brodericke^ 
Col. William Legge, and Mr. Henry Coventry, without 
informing his Majesty of the interest of the Society, 
have procured letters to your Grace, to pass grants of 
the said Fractions unto them, contrary unto the end 
for which the same were originally designed, and his 
Miyesty's gracious intentions ; the Society being much 
troubled thereat, and fearing that the same might have 
been absolutely passed the Seal there, before your Grace 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 133 

could have been informed of the truth of the case, 
nothing doubting, but that, as you have been an eminent 
favourer to the Society in their foundation, you will be 
so far from obstructing or diverting his Majesty's bounty 
or favour unto them, that you will contribute your in- 
terest to make the same effectual. Much more, where 
the interest of private persons, though very deserving, 
comes in competition with the publick concern of a 
Society, whose designs, if protected and assisted by 
authority, may so much conduce to the greatness and 
honour of their Prince, the real good of his dominions, 
and the universal benefit of mankind : and more espe- 
cially where their right and pretentions unto the thing 
in question, are every way more just and considerable 
than theirs, who would endeavour to gain the same 
out of their hands. 

" To prevent which, 'twas desired that Sir Henry 
Bennet would procure his M^'esty's letter unto your 
Grace, to put a stop unto the said grants, untill his 
Migesty were fully informed of the case : wherein he 
was not so forward as was desired, and therefore 'twas 
thought fit to acquaint the CouncU of the said Society 
therewith, who desired me and others of the Society to 
soUicite his Majesty, not only to put a stop unto former 
grants, but also for an absolute grant of all the said 
Fractions to the use of the said Sgciety, which was ac- 
cordingly done in an open and publick way, and fully 
satisfied in the case that he would advise and consider 
of the pretentions of all parties before his Council. 

"Whereupon his M^gesty, after a week's consideration 
thereof, was graciously pleased to sign the grant of which 
I have herewith sent your Grace a copy, untill the 
original can be transmitted. 

'' And as the Society has so far tasted of his Majesty's 


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134 HISTORY OP [1660 — 65. 

justice and favour, they are very confident that your 
Grace will not only in all things cause the same to be 
effectually executed to the advantage of the Society, 
but also in all other their concernments continue your 
favour imto them, so as they may encounter no other 
difficulties : whereby they may be the better enabled to 
effect those ends for which his Majesty was pleased to 
incorporate them. 

"I am, &c., 

"Brouncker, P.R.S." 

But neither the King's private letters, nor that 
of Lord Brouncker, had any effect on the Duke of 
Ormond, who was evidently too much occupied in 
considering his own interests, and those of his imme- 
diate relations and friends, to trouble himself about 
the Royal Society. Indeed, at the time when Lord 
Brouncker's letter was written, the land destined by 
the King for the Society had actually been granted 
by the Duke of Ormond to Sir Allen Roderick, 
Colonel William Legge, and Mr. Henry Coventry, 
although, as Lord Brouncker states^ ''the rights and 
pretentions of the Royal Society unto the thing in 
question, are every way more just and considerable 
than theirs." 

Sir William P§tty, who was at this period in 
Ireland, was requested to send over an estimate of 
the value of the lands granted by the King to the 
Society. Sir William made a rough calculation, but 
did not transmit it to the Society, in consequence 
of the lands having passed into other hands. Sub- 
sequently, however, at the request of several eminent 
Fellows, he communicated it to Sir Robert Southwell, 
whose letter to Oldenburg on the subject^ dated Dub- 


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1660 — es.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 135 

lin. May 15, 1663, is preserved in the archives of the 
Society ^^ It is a curious document, shewing the 
inextricable complication of the whole afiair. There 
is no attempt at any exact estimate of the value of 
the lands, for Sir William Petty observes that, " if the 
odd money and odd measure be understood in an 
unlimited way, then, I say, it will amount unto a great 
matter, but I know not what." In another part of 
the letter, he continues: "Those who told you that 
thirteen millions of acres were yet to be disposed of, 
did not calculate well, for I cannot imagine that there 
is one; and the better to confirm you, I am assured 
that all the profitable land in the whole, kingdome of 
Ireland exceeds not nine millions ; all the lands lett 
out to adventurers and soldiers, not much above two 
millions. Nor does all the forfeited lands, intended 
to be disposed of by act of settlement, extend to three 
millions, and much of what was intended will fall 
short and return to the Irish." 

The non-fulfilment of the King's favourable inten* 
tions towards the Society, did not damp the philo* 
sophic ardour of the Fellows^*. Before adverting to 

" Collection of Letters, No. 20. 

^ It was about this period that Oldenburg, who had been acting 
as Secretary since the passing of the first Charter, wrote the following 
Memorandum, with the view, apparently, of procuring assistance. 
The original is preserved in the British Museum. 

^' The business of the Sec. of the R. S. He attends con« 
stantly the Meetings both of the Society and Councill, noteth the 
obeerrables said and done there, digesteth them in private, 'takes 
care to have them entered in the Journal and Register-books, 
reads over and corrects all entrys, sollicites the performances of 
taskes, recommended, and undertaken, writes all letters abroad, and 
answers the returns made to them, entertaining a correspondence 
with at least fifty persons^ employs a great deal of time, and takes 



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136 HISTOBY OP [1660 — 65, 

their scientific labours, it is important to state that 
considerable time was devoted to the preparation of 
Statutes for the governance of the Fellows indi- 
vidually, and the Society at large, which were even- 
tually, after receiving the King's approbation, passed 
into laws, in January, 1662 — 3. As they throw much 
light on the early history of the Society, a copy of 
them is inserted in the Appendix of this work*\ 

The Journal-book contains the records of several 
experiments tried at the weekly meetings ^S and of 
papers read. Those relating to zoophytal or animal 
ingraftings, attracted considerable attention. Mr. Eve- 
lyn communicated a Paper from a friend of his on this 
subject, in which the author declares that '' when his 
wife cuts the cocks for capons, by plucking the fea- 
thers, and applying them warm in an incision of the 
comb, and there holding them under her finger for 
some minutes till the gore-blood hath well cemented 
them, they grow without fail. Thus can she make 
any bright purple, or other beautiful feather, grow in 
the place of the crest. By the same address will the 
spur, taken fresh and warm from the heel of the cock, 
be made to grow in the place of the comb also." 

much pains in satisfying forreign demands about philosophical mat- 
ters, dispeiseth farr and neare, store of directions and enquiries for 
the Society's purpose, and sees them well recommended. 

" Query : Whether such a person ought to be left vn-assisted ?" 
" They are contained in the Charter-book, with other Statutes 
subsequently enacted. 

"These experiments were generally repetitions of experiments 
already made in private, and exhibited afterwards for the satisfac- 
tion and information of the Society. It is stated, that Boyle was 
so frequently engaged upon experiments that he used to write over 
his street-door when thus occupied, " Mr. Boyle cannot be spoken 
with to-day." See art. Boyle, Bicff. BritU 


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1660 — 65.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 137 

On the 15th Oct. 1662, the King gave further 
evidence of his goodwill towards the Society, by 
declaring his pleasure that *^ no patent should pass for 
any philosophical or mechanical invention, until ex- 
amined by the Society." At the same meeting, Eve- 
lyn presented his Paper on Forest-trees, which was 
ordered to be printed^*. 

Probably the most important scientific event in the 
history of the Society during this year, was the acqui- 
sition of the services of the celebrated Hooke, who - 
on the 12th November was proposed by Sir Uobert 
Moray, as willing to act in the capacity of Curator, 
and, in the words of the Journal-book, " to furnish 

" It was published under the title of Sylva, or a Discourse 
of Forest Trees^ and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty's 
Dominions. Evelyn remarks in his Diary ^ that thb was the first 
book printed by order of the Society, and by their printer, since it 
Tras a Corporation. In the Preface he says, " The reader is to 
know, if these dry sticks afford him any sap, it is one of the least 
and meanest of those pieces which are every day produced by that 
illnatrious assembly, and which enrich their collections, as so many 
monuments of their accurate experiments and public endeavours 
in order to the production of real and useful theories, the propa* 
gation and improvement of Natural Science, and the honour of their 
Institution." In 1679 it reached a third edition, on which occa- 
sion Evelyn observes, ^^With no little conflict and force on my 
other business, I have yet at last, and as I was able, published a 
third edition of my Sylva, and with such additions as occurred, and 
this, in truth, only to pacific the importunitie of very many (be- 
sides the printer), who quite tired me with calling on me for it; and 
above all, threatening to reprint it with all its former defects, if I 
did not speedily prevent it. I am only vexed that it proving so 
popular, as in so few yeares to passe so many impressions, and (as 
I heare), gratifie the avaricious printer with some hundreds of 
pounds, there had not been some course taken in it for the' benefit 
of our Society. It is apparent that nere 500/. has been already gotten 
by it ; but we are not yet oeconomists." Diary ^ Vol. n. p. 106. 


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138 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

the Society every day they meete, with three or four 
considerable experiments, expecting no recompense 
till the Society gett a stock enabling them to give it." 
This proposition was received unanimously, and it 
was resolved that Mr. Hooke should at once be invited 
to take his seat with the Fellows of the Society ; and 
that Mr. Boyle should have the thanks of the Society 
for dispensing with Mr. Hooke's services. 

At this time Hooke was 27 years of age ; he had 
been for many years in the habit of assisting Boyle in 
his experiments, and was acting as his assistant when 
that great philosopher generously relinquished his ser- 
vices in favour of the Royal Society. As Curator and 
Experimenter to the Society, Hooke laboured with 
extraordinary diligence. The Journal-books record 
the trial by him of several hundreds of experiments, 
mostly new, by which " facts multiplied, leading phe- 
nomena became prominent, laws began to emerge, 
and generalizations to commence'*." Waller, in his 
Life of Hookey states that it was "observed by several 
persons, that whatever apparatus he contrived for 
exhibiting any experiment before the Royal Society, 
it was performed with the least embarrassment, 
clearly, and evidently." 

A short time after he entered into the service of 
the Society, he drew up a series of Papers entitled. 
Proposals for the good of the Royal Society ^ which 
are preserved in the archives. The leading features 

" The Designe of the Royal Society being the pro- 
motion of naturall and usefull knowledge, is good : there-* 
fore all things tending to the advancement and per- 

Herschel, Nat, Phil., p. 116. 

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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 139 

petuating thereof ought to be promoted. To these ends 
tends; — such a constitution as will make it self-subsisting. 

** All ages afford men enough inclin'd to the study of 
naturall knowledge. 'Twill be the interest of all such 
to endeavour to be members of this Society^ provided 
the benefit received be greater than the expense and 
trouble will purchase elsewhere. Therefore, the benefit 
of every member thereof in this way, is the soul and life 
of the Society, and by all means to be advanced. Things 
tending hereunto are : 

" 1. That every member of the Society shall have 
equall freedom to be present at all meetings of it, and 
shall have free access to their Library, Repository, In- 
struments, &c., and if absent, shall receive an account of 
all experiments, observations, discourses, inventions, in- 
formations from foreign parts, or correspondencys here 
at home, querys or proposalls, &c., and whatever other 
benefit can be afforded them. 

** 2. That no other person whatsoever, upon any ac- 
count« shall have any of the aforesaid benefits, before he 
be, by his earnest desire* and the suffrage of the Society, 
made a Member thereof. 

"3. That every Member of the Society shall be 
equally obliged to promote the ends thereof by paying 
b2e. yearly, and by doing some one duty that shall 
be charged on them by the Council once a year, or, 
if his occasions will not permit, to pay 52«. more per 
annum. The dutys may be various, as examining some 
subject by tryaUs or experiments. Giving an account of 
authours ; — giving a history of some trade, manufacture, 
coimtry, operation, &c. ; holding correspondence with 
some at home, or in foreign parts, about such matters as 
the Coimcil shall desire, and taking care to provide 
some experiments for the Meetings. 


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140 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

"4. That these dutys may be more certainly per- 
formed, there should be two Secretarys and two Cura- 
tors at least by office. That the Curators* salarys be 
but small, and that there be other encouragements given 
according to desert, upon each new invention, or dis- 
covery; either in money, plate, medab, or other gra- 

'^5. That a certain number of the Society be ap- 
pointed to manage the prosecution of any new invention, 
so as to bring it into use, and make it profitable for 
the Society, and the Inventor." 

The remainder of the manuscript enters into 
details respecting the election of members, experi- 
ments, &c. and is not of sufficient importance to war- 
rant insertion here. But it will be seen, that several 
of Hookers propositions were ultimately carried into 

There was no change made in the Council at the 
Anniversary on St. Andrew's Day, and the Society 
continued their weekly meetings without any recess 
at Christmas. 

In January 1662 — 3, a Committee, that had met 
several times at Arundel House, presented a Report, 
recommending the Society to '' take measures to ex-* 
tend the growth of apple and pear-trees, for making 
cyder all over England;'' and in March following 
another Committee strongly urged the Fellows of the 
Society who possessed land ''to plant potatoes, and 
to persuade their friends to do the same, in order to 
alleviate the distress that would accompany a scarcity 
of food :'* a recommendation, which, we are informed, 
was approved by the body generally. 

A few months after the Charter of Incorpora^ 
tion had been granted, it was found, that, although 


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1660 — 65.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 141 

thoroughly efficient and complete, as a Patent of In- 
corporation, it failed in giving the Society certain 
privileges essential to their welfare. 

A summary of the required powers was given by 
Sir Robert Moray, to Sir Henry Bennett, then Secre- 
tary of State, through whose intercession a second 
Charter was granted to the Society, supplying the 
desired privileges, and retaining all the clauses of In- 
corporation contained in the first Charter. 

At a meeting on the 25th March, 1663, Sir Ro- 
bert Moray informed the Society, that the King had 
signed the second Charter, on which it was ordered 
that "the thanks of the Society should be given to 
Sir Henry Bennett for his favour and care.*' The 
Patent finally passed the Great Seal on the 22nd of 

This document^ which is of greater importance 
than the first Charter, is contained in the Appendix. 


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Evelyns Designs for the Society's Armorial Bearings — Grant of 
Arms by the King — Registered in the Herald's College— First 
Meeting of the Council — Obligation of Fellows— Business of 
the Society — Mace given by Charles II.-i-Described — Curious 
popular belief of its being the celebrated ^^ Bauble"— Account 
of the Bauble-Mace — Letter from Mr. Swifte, Keeper of the 
Begalia — Warrant for making the Mace for the Royal Society. 


IF the reader has referred to the second Charter, he 
will probably have noticed that a grant of Arms 
was made to the Society*. Smith, in his Historical 
and Literary Curiosities^ gives a series of sketches 
copied from original drawings, of designs for the 
£irmorial ensigns and cyphers for the Royal Society, 
traced by Evelyn. The designs are headed^ **Arms 
and Mottoes proposed for y^ Royal Society, 1660," 
and signed J. Evelyn. The first represents a vessel 
under sail, with the motto Et Augehitur Scientia. 
The second escutcheon is parted per fesse, Argent 
and Sable, a hand appears, issuing from clouds, hold- 
ing a plumb-line, and underneath is the motto, Omnia 
probate. (1 Thess. v. 21.) In this sketch there appears 
to have been an intention of introducing the Royal 
Augmentation afterwards given to the Society, as there 
is an escutcheon in the dexter-chief. The third shield 
exhibits two telescopes extended in saltire, the object- 
glasses upwards ; and on a chief argent, the earth and 

^ These are, a shield Argent, on a quarter Gules, and three 
lions of England in pale. A representation of them will be found 


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planets : the motto is Q^antum nescimtis! The fourth 
design is a shield, bearing the sun in his splendour, 
with the motto Ad major em Lumen; on one side of 
the shield is written 

Quis dicere Falsum 
Andeat ? Geor. I. 

The next design represents a shield bearing a canton 
only, with the motto, NvJUius in verhay as at present 
used by the Society; it is probable, therefore, that 
this sketch was intended to-show the disposition of the 
arms subsequently adopted. The last sketch repre- 
sents a shield charged with a terrestrial globe, with 
a human eye in chief; above which are the words 
Merum cognoscere catisaSy taken from the Second 
Book of the Georgics of Virgil. Besides these inscrip- 
tions appears the word Eocperiendo^ and a repetition 
of the motto NtUlitis in verba. 

With the exception of the last motto, none of 
these suggestions were adopted, as the King subse- 
quently granted to the Society the very high and 
honourable Armorial Bearings described in the second 
Charter. In the official Volume, entitled Jiot/al Conr- 
cessions in the College of Arm^, instead of the usual 
form in the instance of a grant of heraldic bearings, 
issuing from the principal and provincial kings of 
arms, the drawing is preceded by the following con- 
firmation : " Whereas his Ma"*, by his letters patent, 
under the Great Seal of England, bearing date 22nd 
day of April, in the 15th year of his reign, hath 
ordained and constituted a Society, consisting of a Pre- 
sident, Council, and Fellows, called by the name of 
the President, Council, and Fellows of the Royal Society 
of London for the advancement of Natural Science, to 
whom, amongst other things, His said Sacred Ma*** 


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144 HISTORY OP [1660 — 65. 

hath therein granted a coat of arms, crest, and sup- 
porters : The said President, Council, and Fellows, 
being desirous to have the clause whereby the same 
are granted to them, together with a trick thereof, 
Entered among the records of this office — It was this 
day, being the thirtieth of June, Anno Domini 1663, in 
full chapter, upon the motion of Elias Ashmole, Esq., 
Windsor Herald, and one of the Fellows of the said 
Society (by whom the said request was made, and the 
said Patent sent hither to be viewed) agreed and con- 
sented unto, and thereupon ordered to be entered as 
foUoweth." Then follows a repetition of that part of 
the charter, granting and describing the arms, which 
it is unnecessary to repeat. 

On the 13th May, 1663, the Council of the Royal 
Society met for the first time, when the second charter 
was read, and after the new members of the Council 
were sworn before the President, the following import- 
ant Resolutions were agreed to : — 

" That the debate concerning those to be received 
and admitted into the Society, be kept under secrecy. 

** That all persona that have been elected or admitted 
into the Royal Society, doe pay their whole arrears unto 
this day according to their subscription : and that the 
Treasurer, or Collector by him appointed, do repair to 
every such person, and demand the said arrears, show- 
ing unto him this order, together with the forme of the 
subscription hereunto annexed." 

"Form of the Subscription. 

"Wee whose names are underwritten do consent 

and agree that we will meet together weekly (if not 

hinder'd by necessary occasions), to consult and debate 

concerning the promoting of Experimental Learning, 


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1660 — 65.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 145 

and that each of us will allow one shilling weekly, to- 
wards the defraying of occasional charges. Provided, 
that if any one or more of us shall think fit at any time 
to withdraw, he or they shglL- after notice given thereof 
L. " tftthft COPiy any at a meeting, be freed from this obliga- 
tion for the future." 

A list was prepared of all the Fellows of the 
Society, who at this time amounted to 115 ^ 

On the 27th May, 1663, the Council resolved that 
the following obligation should be signed by every 
Fellow of the Society, and that any one refus- 
ing, should be ejected from the Society. This obli- 
gation is the same as that in force at the present 
time : — 

"We who have hereunto subscribed, do hereby 
promise each for himself, that we will endeavour to 
promote the good of the Royal Society of London, for 
improving natural knowledge, and to pursue the ends 

* The earliest Manuscript list of the Fellows of the Royal 
Society, is in the British Museam, MS. 4442. On the first fly-leaf 
is this epitaph : 

^* Underneath this stone is laid 
Our neighbour Gaffer Thumb ; 
We trust, although full low his head. 
He'll rise in the world to come. 

This humble monument may shew. 

Where rests an honest man, 
Let kings, whose heads are laid as low. 

Rise higher if they can." 

On the 20th November, 1663, the Royal Society, according to 
another MS. also preserved in the Museum, consisted of 131 Fel- 
lows, of whom 18 were Noblemen, 22 Baronets and Knights, 
47 Esquires, 32 Doctors, 2 Bachelors of Divinity, 2 Masters of 
Arts, and 8 Strangers, or Foreign Members. 

VOL. I. L 


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146 HISTORY OF [1^660—65. 

for which the same was founded ; that we will be present 
at the Meetings of the Society, as often as conveniently 
we can, especially at the anniversary elections, and upon 
extraordinaij i>cC^8ioaft^-.^mLd ^ that we will observe the 
Statutes and Orders of the said SocieJyT 
that whensoever any of us shall signify to the President 
under his hand, that he desireth to withdraw from the 
Society, he shall be free from this Obligation for the 

They also resolved that "the Ordinary Meetings 
of the Society should be held every Wednesday, at 
3 o'clock, p. M., and continue until 6, unless the major 
part of the Fellows present shall resolve to rise 
sooner, or sit longer, and {to Fellow shall depart with* 
out giving notice to the President;" and that "the 
President when in the chair is to be covered, notwith* 
standing the Fellows of the Society be uncovered." 

On the 24th June, 1663, it was resolved, that 
Barons, and all persons of higher rank, and members 
of the King's privy council, coming forward as candi- 
dates, should be proposed and ballotted for on the 
same day. 

In a manuscript volume of Hooke's Papers^ in the 
British Museum, are the originals of the subjoined 
interesting documents, which were probably drawn up 
after the passing of the second Charter, as the date 
1663 is appended to them. 

" The business and design of the Boyal Society is — 
" To improve the knowledge of naturall things, and 
all useful Arts, Manufactures, Mechanick practises. En- 
gynes and Inventions by Experiments — (not meddling 
with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar, 
Bhetorick, or Logick). 


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l€60 — 65^] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. - 147 

** To attempt the recovering of such allowable arts 
and inTentions as are lost. 

<' To examine all systems, theories, principles, hypo- 
theses, elements, histories, and experiments of things 
naturall, mathematicall, and mechanicaU, inyented, re- 
corded, or practised, by any considerable author ancient 
or modem. In order to the compiling of a complete 
system of solid philosophy for explicating all phenomena 
produced by natiu'e or art, and recording a rationall 
account of the causes of things. 

"All to advance the glory of God, the honour of 
the King, the Royall founder of the Society, the benefit 
of his Kingdom, and the generall good of mankind. 

" In the mean time this Society will not own any 
hypothesis, system, or doctrine of the principles of 
naturall philosophy, proposed or mentioned by any philo- 
sopher ancient or modem, nor the explication of any 
phenomena whose recourse must be had to originall 
causes (as not being explicable by heat, cold, weight, 
figure, and the like, as effects produced thereby) ; nor 
dogmatically define, nor fix axioms of scientificall things, 
but will question and canvass all opinions, adopting nor 
adhering to none, till by mature debate and clear argu- 
ments, chiefly such as are deduced from legitimate ex« 
periments, the truth of stich experiments be demonstrated 

"And till there be a sufficient collection made of 
experiments, histories, and observations, there are no 
debates to be held at the weekly meetings of the So- 
ciety, concerning any hypothesis or principal of philo- 
sophy, nor any discourses made for explicating any 
phenomena, except by speciall appointment of the So- 
ciety or allowance of the President. But the time of 
the assembly is to be employed in proposing and making 


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148 raSTORY OF [1660—65. 

experiments, discoursing of the truth, manner, grounds 
and use thereof, reading and discoursing upon letters, 
reports and other papers concerning philosophical! and 
mechanicall matters, viewing and discoursing of curiosi- 
ties of nature and art, and doing such other thingps as 
the Council or the President shall appoint'." 

The other document runs thus : 

"The designe of the Royal Society being the im- 
provement of naturall knowledge, they pursue that 
designe by all means they conceive to conduce there- 
unto ; and knowing that much of it lies dispersed here 
and there amongst learned and experienced men, when 
it is ofttimes little regarded because not enquired after, 
and too generally lost by the death or forgettfullness of 
the possessors, they conceive many usefull and excellent 
observations may be collected into a general repository, 
where inquisitive men may be sure to find them safely 
and carefully preserved, both for the honour of those 
that conununicate them, and to the generall good of 
mankind; which is their principall and ultimate aim. 
And though a virtuous action be a sufficient reward to 
itself, and that it is ofttimes a greater pleasure to com- 
municate than to concele an invention, yet they resolve 
to gratify all that communicate with suitable returns of 
such experiments, observations, and inventions of their 
own, or advertisements from others of their correspond- 
ents, as shall in some kind make them amends. And 
that you may understand what parts of naturall know- 
ledge they are most inquisitive for at this present, they 
designe to print a Paper of advertisements once every 
week, or fortnight at furthest, wherein will be contained 
the heads or substance of the inquiries they are most 

3 Additional MSS. 4441. 


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1660—65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 149 

solicitoiis about, together with the progress they have 
made and the informatioii they have received from other 
hands, together with a short account of such other 
philosophical! matters as accidentally occur, and a brief 
discourse of what is new and considerable in their letters 
from all parts of the world, and what the learned and 
inquisitive are doing or have done in physick, mathe- 
maticks, mechanicks, opticks, astronomy, medicine, chy- 
mistry, anatomy, both abroad and at home ; — ^First, it is 
earnestly desired that all obseirvations that have been 
already made of the variation of the magneticall needle 
in any part of the world, might be communicated, toge- 
ther with all the circumstances remarkable in the making 
thereof; of the celestiall observations for knowing the 
true meridian, or by what other means it may be found, 
the time of making it, by whom and in what manner, 
with what kind of needle, whether a ship-board or upon 
land, &c. But from a considerable collection of such 
observations. Astronomy might be made of that admirable 
effect of the body of the earth upon a needle toacht by 
a loadstone, that if it will (as is probable it may) be 
usefull for the direction of seamen or others for finding 
the longitude of places, the observations collected toge- 
ther, with the theory thereof, may be published for the 
generall good of navigation, which they engage to doe 
soe soon as they have a sufficient number of such obser- 
vations, wherein mention shall be made of evexy person 
soe making and conmiunicating his observations^" 

These comprehensive statements, although not 
strictly official, yet, being in the hand-writing of 
Hooke, who was so intimately connected with the 

« Additional MSS. 4441. 


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160 HISTORY OP [l66(K-6a. 

Society, possess great value, as exhibiting the con* 
templated scope of operations. 

In August, 1663, Charles 11. presented the Society 
with the Mace at present in their possession*. His 
Majesty had probably resolved some time previously 
to honour the Society with this mark of his esteem, 
for, in the first and second Charters, permission is 
given to have two Sergeants-at-mace to attend upon 
the President {duo8 sertientes ad clavctSy qui de tem» 
pore in tempus, super Prceddem attendant). The 
Council-Book of the Society records, that **on the 
8rd of August, 1663, the President (Lord Brouncker) 
informed the Society, that Sir Gilbert Talbot, Master 
of the Jewell House, had sent to him, without taking 
any fees, the Mace bestowed by his Majesty upon the 
Society ; and that he, the said President, had, in the 
book of his Majesty's Jewell House, acknowledged 
the receipt thereof for the Society*." 

This Mace, which fills so important an ofiice in the 
Royal Society, as no Meeting can be legally held with- 
out \i\ is made of silver, richly gilt, and weighs 190 

' The account of this Mace ¥ras read before the Royal Society, 
on the 30th April, 1846, and is printed in the Proceedin/|;8. 

• Vol. I. p. 23. 

7 The same practice respecting this insignia exists at the Royal 
Society, as is observed in Parliament. In the House of Commons, 
when the Speaker is in the chair, and the Mace on the table, any 
member may rise to address the house. When the Speaker leaves 
the chair, the Mace is taken off the table ; and when earned out of 
the building, the assembly is no longer a house. I may mentioD9 
however, that prior to the Presidency of Sir Hans Sloane, the Mace 
was only put on the table at the Society's Meetings when the Preh 
ndent was in the chair. \he first official act of Sir Hans Sloane, in his 
capacity of President, was to order the Mace to be used when a Vice- 
President occupied the ohair, as weQ as when the President presided- 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 151 

oz. avoirdupois. It consists of a stem^ handsomely 
chased, with a running pattern of the thistle, ter- 
minated at the upper end by an urn-shaped head, 
surmounted by a crown, ball, and cross. On the 
head are embossed figures of a rose, harp, thistle, 
and fleur-de-lys, emblematic of England, Ireland, 
Scotland, and France, on each side of which are the 
letters C. B. Under the crown, and at the top of the 
head, the royal arms appear very richly chased ; and 
at the other extremity of the stem are two shields, 
the one bearing the arms of the Society, the other 
the following inscription^ :— 

Ex Munificently 

Angnstissimi Monarchas 

Caroli II. 

^ The Anns of the Society and the Inscription were engraved 
on the Mace by the Societ/s directions in the year 1663; it was 
cleaned and regDt in 1756 at the expense of Lord Macclesfield, who 
was at that period President of the Society, as appears by the fol* 
lowing entry in the Council Minutes under the date of July 29, 

*^ The President having declared by letter to Mr. Watson, that 
he intended that the Mace shall be cleaned and repaired at his 
expense, it was 

'^ Ordered, that Mr. Hawksbee do deliver the Mace to Messrs, 
Wyckes and Netherton> silversmiths in Panton Street, for that 

The Mace accordingly was put into thorough repair, regilt, and 
roistered in the Excise office as weighing 190 oz*. At a Meeting 
of the Society on the 25th of November, 1756, the thanks of the 
Society were unanimously voted to the President " for this obliging 
mark of his regard for themt." 

In 1828, the Mace was again regilt and repaired, at an expense 
of 23/. 10«. It b now in excellent condition. 

• Council Minutes, Vol. ir. pp. 177 and 178. 
•f Joumai'bookf Vol. xxiii. p. 418. 


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152 HISTORY OF [1660-^65. 

Dei Gra. Mag. Brit. Franc, et Hib. 

Regis, &c. 

Societatis Regalis ad Scientiaro 

Naturalem promouenda institutas 

Fundatoris et Patroni 

An. Dni 1663. 

To this Mace attaches a celebrity, which has long 
caused it to be regarded with extraordinary interest. 
It is almost superfluous to state, that this arises from 
the belief of its being the identical Mace turned out 
of the House of Commons by Oliver Cromwell when 
he dissolved the Long Parliament. So general has 
been this credence, that numberless visitors have 
come purposely to the apartments of the Society to 
see the Mace, having read, or been assured, that it 
is the famous *' bauble ;" and after minutely examin- 
ing it, have departed, firmly persuaded that they 
have seen the Instrument so rudely dealt with by the 

Nor has its fame been confined to oral tradition : 
Writers, professing to be authentic historians, have 
chronicled that the '' bauble mace " is in the posses- 
sion of the Royal Society ; and it may be mentioned 
that the proprietors of the Abbotsford Edition of the 
WaverUy Novds applied for permission to make a 
drawing of it to illustrate Woodstock^ ^^ engraving 
of which appears in the above work, accompanied 
by a statement, that it is a representation of the 
•* bauble mace" formerly belonging to the Long Parr 
liament, and now in the possession of the Royal 

It is difficult to conceive how this belief originated, 
and the more so, as there is not the slightest historir 
cal evidence in its favour ; but, on the contrary, many 
facts which prove most indisputably, that the mace in 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROTAL SOCIETY. 153 

question has no claim whatever to the designation 
of the "bauble" of the Long Parliament. 

I confess that when the oft-repeated story, or 
legend as we may now call it, was imparted to me, 
I felt a strong desire to learn on what historical 
grounds it rested. As an officer of the Royal So- 
ciety, I felt it to be almost my duty, when visitors 
came to see the '' bauble," to be able to authenticate 
its history, though it may be observed, that I have 
never heard any doubts whatever cast upon its sup- 
posed authenticity : so true is it, that we willingly 
cling to whatever is interesting and marvellous. 

It however frequently occurred to me, that the So- 
ciety's Mace could not be that used in the House of 
Ck>mmons during the reign of Charles the First, and 
subsequently turned out by the Commonwealth Par- 
liament ; for when I thought of the democratic whirl- 
wind that uprooted and swept away every vestige 
of royalty, it appeared that nothing short of a miracle 
could account for the preservation of so conspicuous 
and decisive an emblem of Sovereignty. 

Researches for the purposes of this history led me, 
in the first place, to investigate the history of the 
famous " bauble ;" and, secondly, that of the Mace of 
the Royal Society, in order to ascertain whether the 
latter and former are identical. 

These researches were far more laborious than I 
anticipated; and although, unfortunately, they may 
have the effect of destroying a pleasing and long- 
cherished illusion, I feel confident nevertheless, that 
the Royal Society will not be displeased by having 
the real truth set before them. 

On the 30th of January, 1649, Charles the First 
was beheaded; and on the 1st of February following. 


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154 HISTORY OF [1660 — 65. 

the Journal-books of the House of Commons inform 
us^ that "a Committee appointed for securing the 
crown-jewells, and other things, late the King's, 
reported that thej have disposed them in a room 
under several doors now locked up^^" The royal 
Mace was doubtless among the articles of plate thus 
disposed of, as on the 17th of March, we find an- 
other entry that, " It be referred to the Conmiittee 
for alteration of seals, to consider of a new form of 
Mace, and the special care thereof is conmiitted to 
Mr. Love"." 

On the 13th of April, 1649, "Mr. Love reported 
several forms of a new Mace," upon which it was 
" Resolved, that this shall be the form of the new 


* * ^ * * 

Instead of a design appear a number of asterisks as 
above; but, fortunately, the Parliamentary History 
and Whitelock's Memorials enable us to fill the blank 
in the most satisfactory manner. On the 6th of 
June, we read, " It was ordered that the new Mace, 
made by Thomas Maundy of London, goldsmith, be 
delivered unto the charge of the sergeant-at-arms 
attending the Parliament; and that the said Mace 
be carried before the Speaker; and that all the 
Maces to be used in this Commonwealth be made 
according to the same form and pattern; and that 
the said Thomas Maundy have the making thereof 
and none other"." 

» Vol. VI. p. 164. 

1^ Probably in the Tower ; as Whitelock says, that he went at 
this period with others to see the Seals locked up in the Tower. 
" Vol. VI. p. 166. " Vol. VI. p. 184. 

M Vol. VI. p. 226. 


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I660 — 65.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 155 

Now, according to the Parliamentary History^ on 
the 6th of June (the same day, it will be observed^ 
that the Journal-books of the House of Commons 
state '*the new Mace was ordered to be delivered to 
the sergeant^at-arms,") a new Mace was brought into 
the House, ornamented with flowers instead of the 
cross and ball on the top, with the arms of England 
and Ireland, inStead of the late King's ^\ Whitelock 
also records in his Memorials^ that '' on the 6th of 
June, 1649, a new Mace with the arms of England and 
Ireland, instead of the King's arms, was approved and 
delivered to Sergeant Birkhead. to be used for the 
House ; and all other Maces for the Commonwealth 
to he of that form^V It is thus evident, that a new 
Mace was provided for the Commonwealth Parlia* 
ment^ differing essentially in form from that used in 
the time of Charles the First. The Journals of the 
Commons further inform us, that on the 11th of June, 
1649, "the Committee of revenue was authorized and 
required to pay forthwith, unto Thomas Maundy of 
London, the sum of £137. 1^. Sd., in discharge of his 
bill of charges for making the new Mace for the ser- 
vice of this House *V* There appears to have been 
some error in this amount, as on the 7th of August 
1649, it was "Ordered, that it be referred to the 
Committee of revenue to examine the particulars 
touching the charge for making the Mace for this 
House ; and if they find the same was miscast, and 
that the sum of £9. 10^. remaineth yet due and 
unpaid for the same, that they forthwith make pay- 
ment of the same unto Thomas Maundy *^" 

1* Vol. ra. p. 1314. i» Vol. VI. p. 228. 

i« P. 406. ^ Vol. VI. p. 275. 


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156 HISTORY OF [1660 — 60. 

Thus we have additional evidence, not only of the 
manufacture of a new Mace for the House^ but even 
of its cost. 

On the 9th of August, 1649, as appears from 
the Journals, it was '' Ordered, that those gentlemen 
who were appointed by this House to have the cus- 
tody of the Regalia, do deliver them over unto the 
trustees for sale of the goods of the*late King, who 
are to cause the same to be totally broken ; and that 
they melt down all the gold and silver, and sell 
the Jewells to the best advantage of the Common- 
wealth, and to take the like care of them that are in 
the Tower"." 

There is every reason to believe that this order 
was executed, and that not only the regalia, but all 
gold and silver articles (among which would be in- 
cluded the royal Mace) were melted down and sold. 
A curious MS., giving an account of the preparations 
for the coronation of Charles the Second, by Sir 
Edward Walker, Knt., Garter Principal King-at-arms, 
published in 1820, informs us, ** that because through 
the rapine of the then late unhappy times, all the 
royal ornaments and regalia, theretofore preserved 
from age to age in the treasury of the Church of 
Westminster, had been taken away, sold, or destroyed^ 
the Committee (appointed to order the ceremony) 
met divers times, not only to direct the re-making 
such royal ornaments and regalia, but even to settle 
the form and fashion of each particular, all which did 
then retain the old names and fashion, although they 
had been newly made and prepared, by orders given 
to the Earl of Sandwich, Master of the Great Ward- 

M Vol. VI. p. 276. 

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1^60 — 65.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 157 

robe, and Sir Gilbert Talbot, Knt., Master of the 
Jewell House.** 

The MS. then proceeds to enumerate the various 
articles ordered for the coronation of the King, ren- 
dering it still more evident that the former regalia 
had been destroyed^'. 

The singular and fortunate discovery of the receipt 
of Sir Robert Vyner for 5500/., being part payment of 
31,978/. 98. lid., the charge for making the Regalia 
and different gold and silver ornaments, destined as 
presents at the Coronation of Charles the Second, 

1' The following letter from Mr. Swifte, Keeper of Her Ma- 
jesty's Jewel House, confirms the above statement : — 

^ Her Majestj^s Jewel Houee, 
March 15, 1846. 
''Dear Sm, 

*' Yon are but too right in your idea of the modem 
character of our Regalia. Whether as an Englishman, a Royalist, an 
Historian, or as a Gentleman, or in all these capacities, you must 
grieve over the wicked annihilation of its ancient memorials. The 
barbarous spirit which descended on the French revolutionista, 
when they destroyed even the tombs and the bones of their ancient 
mcmarchy, actuated our Puritans to break up and sell the old Crown 
Jewels of England. 

^ The two Jewel Houses (for then there were two, the upper 
and the lower) were betrayed by my predecessors. Sir Henry and 
Mr. Carew Mildmay, in 1649, and their precious contents trans- 
fared to the Usurper. The most shameful part of this afflicting 
transaction was the breaking up of King Alfred's wirework gold 
fillagree crown, and selling it for the weight of the metal, and what 
the stones would fetch. 

^ A new Regalia was ordered at the Restoration, to which addi- 
tions or alterations have been made as requisite, constituting that 
which is now in my charge, 

" Believe me, my dear Sir, very fiiithfully yours, 

*' Edmund Lentbal Swifts, K.C.J. 
''C.B. Weld^Eeq." 


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158 mSTOBY OF [1660—65. 

lends additional and powerful weight to the presump* 
tion, that all the plate belonging to Charles the First 
was destroyed. 

The receipt specifies the various articles made» 
among which are no less than ''eighteen maces, and 
divers other parcells of guilt and white plate." It is 
Worthy of mention, that this receipt was found by Mr. 
Robert Cole among the documents sold in 1838 by the 
then Lords of the Treasury as waste paper ! ! It forms 
the subject of a short communication made to the 
Society of Antiquaries in 1841, and is printed in the 
29th volume of the Arckceoloffia^\ 

Between the period when the new Commonwealth 
Mace was first used, and the 23rd of April, 1653, the 
date of the celebrated dissolution, the Journals of the 
Commons frequently allude to the new Mace ; and as 
there is no record whatever of any other mace hav- 
ing been ordered, we can only conclude that this 
was the celebrated Mace mentioned in all histories 
of that period as the " bauble,'^ so called by Crom- 
well when he dissolved the Parliament. That the 
Mace was turned out of the House of Commons ad- 
mits of no doubt, as all writers agree on the point, 
the only discrepancy being, that some say Crom- 
well, pointing to the Mace, ordered a musketeer to 
take away that '' fooFs bauble ;" and others, that when 
all the Members had left the House, the doors were 

^ For another proof of the extraordins^ want of jud|pnent 
manifested by the Lords of the Treasury in selling several tons 
weight of national records, see a veiy curious pamphlet by Mr. 
Thomas Rodd, entitled, Narrative of the Proceedings instittUed in 
the Court of Common Pleas against Mr. T. Eodd^ for the purpose 
of wresting from him a certain MS. roll, under the pretence of its 
being a document belonging to that Court, 8vo. London, 1845. 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 159 

locked, and the key, with the mace, carried away by 
Colonel Otley. 

We may mention here, that West's famous pic* 
ture of the Dissolution of the Long Parliament repre- 
sents Cromwell in the act of pointing to the Mace 
as he uttered the words, ''Take away that fool's bau* 
ble." The Mace, which occupies a most prominent 
position in the centre of the picture, agrees per* 
fectly in its appearance with the description given 
of it in the Parliamentary History and Whitelock's 
Memorials^ being nearly destitute of ornament, and 
without the crown and cross. 

Had we no further evidence, this testimony.from 
authentic documents would suffice to prove that 
the Mace turned out of the House of Commons by 
Cromwell was not that subsequently given to the 
Royal Society by Charles the Second, which differs 
totally in appearance from the Mace made for the 
Commonwealth Parliament, and, as we have seen, used 
by the House of Commons from 1649 to 1653. And 
when we reflect, that immediately after the King's 
execution, orders were issued to pull down, erase, and 
destroy every vestige of royalty throughout the length 
and breadth of the land'\ it is absurd to imagine that 
the individuals giving such orders, and exacting their 
most rigid execution, should, for a period of upwards 
of four years, have sat around a table on which lay a 
Mace, bearing not only the royal arms in the most 
conspicuous form, but also a crown and the letters 

^ The King's Arms over the Speaker's chair were taken down, 
and those of the Commonwealth substituted immediately after the 
execution of Charles the First. Journals of the House of Com^ 



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160 HISTORY OF ' [1660 — 65. 

C. R. four times repeated : and this they must have 
done to make the story true, that the Mace given to 
the Royal Society by Charles the Second is the famous 

'' The sacred Mace," as it has been called by some 
historians, though so unceremoniously expelled from 
the House of Commons, was, strange as it may seem, 
preserved and soon restored to its high office ; for on 
the 7th of July 1653, only three days after the 
assembling of Cromwell's first Parliament, the Jour- 
nals of the Commons inform us, that the Sergeant- 
at-arms was " Ordered to repair to Lieut.-Col. Worse- 
ley for the Mace, and to bring it to this House; 
and on the same day it was referred to a Com- 
mittee to consider the use of the Mace, and with 
whom it shall remain, and report their opinion to 
the House"." 

On the 12th of July the Committee reported, 
that "the Mace should be made use of as formerly;" 
upon which the House resolved, "That the Mace shall 
be used in the House as formerly ; and it was ordered 
that the Mace be brought in, which was done accord- 

From this period to the Restoration, there is no 
record of a new Mace having been ordered ; and by 
the Journals of the Commons it appears that the Mace 
was used on all occasions as heretofore, and sometimes 
even carried before the Speaker, when he went at the 
head of the House to attend service at St. Margaret's 
Church, on the days appointed for solemn fasts. 

The Restoration, which put an end to every out- 
ward manifestation of republicanism, terminated the 

« Vol. vn. p. 282. « Ibid., p. 284. 

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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 161 

existence of the Commonwealth Mace; indeed, as much 
haste was shown to get rid of it, as was evinced— » 
after the execution of the late King — in the ejection 
of the royal Mace from the House of Commons. 

On the 27th of April 1660, the Journals fur- 
ther show, that E. Birkhead, Esq., late Sergeant- 
at-mace, was " Ordered forthwith to deliver the keys 
of the House, and the Mace belonging to the House, to 
Sergeant Northfolk ;" and on the 21st of May it was 
resolved**, " That two new Maces be forthwith pro- 
vided, one for this House, and the other for the 
Council of State, with the cross and King's Majesty^s 
arms, and such other ornaments as were formerly 
usual; and it was referred to the Council of State 
to take care that the same be provided accord- 

Here we have additional evidence that the Royal 
Society's Mace and the ^^ bauble" are not identical, for 
we find the House of Commons ordering, a month 
before the Restoration, a new Mace, which is to be 
decorated ''with the King's arms, cross, and other 
ornaments as were formerly usual." 

Having thus clearly ascertained that the Mace pre- 
sented to the Royal Society by Charles the Second is 

«* Vol. vra. pp. 34 and 39. • 

^ The Maoe at present in the House of Commons corresponds 
in appearance to the above description, and is^ I have every reason 
to believe, that made at the Restoration ; it is very much like the 
mace in the possession of the Royal Society, with the exception 
that the chasing and ornaments are executed in a less elegant 
manner. It is 4 feet 8 inches long, and weighs 251 oas. 8 dwts. 
2 grs. There is no inscription, date, or maker^s name, but simply 
C.R. between the four shields, emblematic of England, Irehmd^ 
Scotland, and France ; these letters are on all the maces made at 
the tijne of the Restoration, 

VOL. I. M 


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162 HISTORY OF [l6S0.=-i65. 

not that expelled from the House of Commons by 
Cromwellj I turned my attention to discover, if pos- 
sible, the history of the Mace belonging to the Royal 
Society. • 

It will be remembered that the archives of the 
Society throw no light whatever upon this point, 
nor is the Mace even described*. It is merely 
stated, that it was sent from the Jewel House in the 
year 1663. Under these circumstances^ and by the 
advice of my friend Sir Henry Ellis, I addressed a 
letter to Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Esq., Keeper of Her 
Majesty's Jewel Houi^e, requesting permission to search 
the- archives, which I presumed were kept in that 
bifiee. In reply I received the following letter :■;— 

" Her Majesty" 9 Jewel House, 
"DbaeSib, JJforcA 13. 1846. 

" It would have much gratified me to 
aid the wishes of any friend of 8ir Henry EUis. 

" On your accowit too, your name and office would 
have been more than sufficient to claim attention. But 
I can only regret my inability in this matter. Since 
Edmund Burke's Bill, the Jewel House has undergone 
a radical change in its duties and functions. Previously, 
its Chief had the charge and presentation of the Royal 
gifts, wherepf he had of course the accounts. Whatever 
entries there may be concerning the Mace, which was 

^ Ereljm says in bis Diary, that ^ the "King sent the Society 
a Maoe of silver gilt of the same £uhioii and h^ess tA thos6 
carried before his Majestie, to be borne before the President on Meet- 
ing-daies," Vol. l p. 938; and it is recorded in the Conncil-book 
of the Society, that Sir Richard Brown, through the medium of 
Evelyn, presented the Society with a velvet eoshion, whereon ili^ 
Mace was laid when placed before the President. 


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16B0^— 65.] THE BOtAL SOOlETY. 16^ 

certainly giteh by Charles tBe Second to Lord Brouncker, 
as President of the Boyal Society, in the old books of 
the Jewel House, they are most jNrobably to be found in 
the Lord Chamberlain's Office, to whom the control of 
the Jewel House ytaa transfetred in (I bdieve) 1782, 
Not a single record is, or ever was, in my hands. Other- 
wise, to have accorded you fullest and freest access^ 
would hdve been to nie an especial pleasure. 
"I am, my dear Sir, 

"Very faithfuUy yours, 

"Edmund Lenthal Swi^b. 
" a B. WM, Esq:' 

The receipt of this letter caused me to write to 
the Lord Chamberlain for permission to examine the 
archives under his charge. This was immediately 
granted, and with the kind assistance of the chief 
clerks in Lord Delawarr's oflBce, I fortunately, after 
a long search in a gloomy and damp apartment^ 
which was formerly a stable, found the original war- 
rant, ordering a Mace to be made for the Royal 

Subjoined is a copy of this important and valuable 
document. The book in which it exists is entitled, 
The Book qf Warrants qf the Lord Charnberlaitiy 
Ed/mard^ Earl of Manchester, qfHis Majesty's House-^ 
hold, for the Years 166S, 4, 5, 6, 4- 7, and the war- 
rant is entered under the head of "Jewell House :*' — 

" A Wabrant to prepabe akd deliver to the 
Rt. Hoit. William Lord VtscoUNT Brouncker, Pre- 



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164 HISTORY OP [1660 — 65. 


SAID Society." 

This warrant is among those issued in 1663 ; and 
as several previous warrants exist, bearing the dates 
of January, February, March, and April ; and others, 
entered subsequently, are. dated May, June, and July, 
we may reasonably conclude, that the warrant for 
making the Society's Mace was issued early in 1663 ; 
and this is strengthened by the fact, that the Society 
received the Mace in the month of August in the same 

This discovery not only destroys the long-enter- 
tained belief that the Mace belonging to the Royal 
Society and the "bauble" are identical, but also 
affords conclusive evidence that the former was made 
expressly for the Royal Society. 

On a minute examination of this Mace, in order 
to detect, if possible, the maker's name or a date, 
neither of which exist, I observed that the chasing 
on the stem consists entirely of thistle-leaves and 
flowers: at the time this fact passed unnoticed, but 
it is now evident that the thistle was employed as 
the principal ornament, on account of its being sym- 
bolical of St. Andrew, the patron saint of the Society, 

^ Troy weight, which exceeds 150 oz. avoirdupois. 

^ Since this account was read before the Society, Mr. Browell, 
the chief clerk in the Lord Chamberlain's Office, has been so obliging 
as to inform me, that the foregoing warrant is entered in another 
book of warrants, apparently a duplicate of that which I saw. 
The words of the warrant are similar to the above, but there is 
the important addition of the date, May 23, 1663 ; thus confirm- 
ing my idea that the warrant was issued in the early part of the 
latter year. 


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1660 — 65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 165 

in whose honour the Fellows of the Society were 
accustomed, at the early anniversary Meetings, to wear 
a St. Andrew's cross in their hats. 

This use of the thistle is another proof that the 
Mace was made for the Society. 

In conclusion, I cannot forbear observing, that 
although the Mace may not be as curious as before to 
the antiquary, divested as it now is, of its fictitious 
historical interest, yet it is much more to be respected; 
for surely a Mace designated a ^' bauble," and spurned 
from the House of Commons by a republican, would 
scarcely be an appropriate ^ft from a Sovereign to 
the Royal Society. 

The Mace in its possession was expressly made for 
the Society, and given to it by its Royal Founder; 
and the associations appertaining to it, embracing the 
remembrance, that around it have been gathered men 
whose names not only shed imperishable lustre on the 
Royal Society, but on the civilized world, must hallow 
it to all lovers of science and truth. 


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Soi-bidze's Account of his yisit to the Society — Sprat's Obser^tions 
upon it. — Moncony's Description of the Society — ^Anniversary 
celebrated by Fello^frs dining together— 'Charles II. sends 
Venison — Exertions to increase the Income of the Society- 
Petition to the Kjng for grant of Chelsea College— Society issoa 
their Warrant for the bojdies of e|^ute4 priminals-7r Notice of 
Dissection sent to the Fellows — Sir J. Cutler found? a Pror 
fessorship of Mechanics — ^Hooke appointed Professor and Cura- 
tor — ^Has apartments in Gresham College— His Micrographia 
printed by licence of Council — ^Dedicated to the Society- 
Appointment of Committees — .Charter-^bocii j(^)ened — Ex- 
pected visit of Charles II. — Publication of Transactions by 
Oldenburg — Dedication of First Number — Contents— Their 
Sale— The Plague causes a suspension of the Meetings — Olden- 
burg remains in London — His alarm — Council-Meetings re- 
jBumed — Purchase of Mr. Colwall's Collectioa of Onriositioo 
Formation of Museum — Museum Tradescqntiun^-r'Tiuiei&exei 
to Oxfordri-Coffecr House Museums^^ldenburg's extensive Cor- 
respondence — Presents of Rarities — Weekly Meetings resumed 
— Masters of Pest-house send their Observations on the Pkgue 
to the Society — Experiment oi Transfusion of Blood— ^Great Fire 
of London interrupts the Meetings — The Society meet in 
Arundel House — Hooke's Model for rebuilding the City — ^The 
Duke of Norfolk presents his Library to the Society — Account 
of it — Duchess of Newcastle visits the Society — ^Arrest of Olden- 
burg — Warrant for his confinement in the Tower — His innocence 
and release— His Letter to Boyle — The Society obtain pos- 
session of Chelsea College— Its dilapidated state— Scheme of 
building a College — Contributions of the Fellows towards the 
building — Wren furnishes Design — Never carried out — Patent 
granting Chelsea College, and additional privileges.- 


IN the year 1663, M. Sorbi^re, historiographer to 
Louis XIV., visited England, and on his return to 
France, published an account of his travels, entitled, 


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^lotion (Tun Voyage en Angleterre, oH sont Umch^e^ 
pliisieur9 ckoses qui regardent Festat des Sciences^ et 
de la Religion^ et avtres matidres curiemes. In this 
work the authoir gives the following int^esting 
account of the Royal Society, to which he paid seve- 
v^I visits : — 

L'Acadhnis BoyaU des Phydciem de Landrea est itabiU 
pair des letires du Soy, qui en est h fandatemr, et qui luy a 
domui le CoUepe de Greshem^ dans la rue Biscop ffet8triidt\ o^ 
eUe fanembh tons les Mercredis, Je ne sfay s'il f>*y a point 
detia qudque reuenu ajicti pour l^enireHen des personnes qui 
gouement les machines, et d*vn huissier, qui marcke deuant le 
President aueo vne grosse masse d'argent, laqueUe U pose sur le 
Bureau de FAssembleSf quand il y vient prendre place, Mais 
fay bien ouy dire^ que Von eetoit apres i trouer vn/andspour 
quatre milk Kures de rente a deux personnes sfouantes^ qui de* 
meurerot dans le CoUege^ et qui serontgagies pour rapporter a la 
eompagnie ce dovd elle toudra estre in/ormie par la lecture des 
Uures, JEt a cet vsage U y a dt-ja «» commencmMmt de Bi» 
Hiatheque tout ioignant tne gaterie^ dans laquelle on passe au 
sortir de la sale de FAssembke : comme dvn autre cosU il y 
a au deuant de la mesme sale, vne anti-chawAre fort honneste, et 
deux autres chambres en Pvne desqueUes on tient le Oonseil; 
sans conter le logement que Von destine aux deux pro/esseurs, 
qui reciieiUerowt des Autheurs les anciennes eaperienees Physi- 
ques et michaniquesj que Ton examinera pour sen asseurer ^ 
Fauenir^ tandis que Von emfira aussi de nouuelles. La chambre 
de r Academic est grande et lambrissie. II y a tme tongue 
toNe au deuant de la cheminSCy sept au huict chaises a rentour^ 
couuertes de drop gris, et deux range de bancs de bois tout ntid 
a dossier, le dernier estant plus esleuS que Fautre en forme, 
ifamphiiheatre. Le President et les Conseillers sont electifs* 

^ M. Sorbi^re thus curiously spells Bbhopsgate Street. 


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168 HISTORY OP [1660 — 65* 

lb ne gardmU point de ranff dans VAssmbUe ; maU h Pred- 
dent u met au milieu de la table dans tnfauteuil, Ummant le 
das a la cheminie. Le Secretaire est assis au bout d sa gauehe^ 
et its ont ehaeun deuant eux du papier et une ^eritoire. le 
ne fns personne sur les chaises^ et ie pense qu^elles sont reseru^ 
pour les pens de haute quaUtS^ oupour eetuequi ont a iapprooher 
du President en certaines oecasions. Tons les autres Acadhnidens 
prennetit place indifferemment et sans eSrSmonie, et lorsque quel- 
qu'vn suruiet apres que FAssembUe est/ormie^personne ne brands^ 
i peine est-il salui du President, et ilprend place vistement Id 
oit U pent, afin de ne pas interrompre eelujf qui parte. Le 
President tient vne petite masse de bois i la main, dont Ufrappe 
sur la table lore qu^il wui f aire f aire sHenee. Onparle a luf 
dSeouuerty iusques i ce quit /ait signs que Von se couure ; et 
Von rapporte en peu de mots ce que Von trouue a propos de dire 
sur Vexperienee que le Secretaire a proposie. Persons ne se 
haste de parler^ ny ne se picque de parler hng-temps^ et de 
dire tout ce qu'U Sfait. On nHnterrompt iamais celuy qui 
parle^ et les dissentimens ne se poussent pas bien auanty ny d^vn 
ton qui puisse desobUger en auoune maniire. H ne se peut 
rien voir deplus eiuU^ deplus retpectueux^ et de mieux conduit 
que cette AssembUe teUe qu^eUe me parut. S'il y a quelques 
entretiens particuUers qui se/orment tandis que quelqu'vn parle^ 
ils se passent a ForeiUey et Pon iarrette tout court au moindre 
signal que le President fait ; de sorts que Fon n'acheue pas 
mesme de dire sa pensSe. Cette modestie me sembla/ort remar- 
quable en vn corps composS de tant de personnes^ et de tant de 
sortes de nationsK 

Sorbi^re laments that the natural reserve of the 
English, which extended to the Fellows of the Society; 
their repugnance to speak French, and their pronun- 
ciation of Latin, so foreign to his ears, gave him but 

» pp. 86--91. 


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1660 — 6Sj] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 169 

little opportunity of cultivating their acquaintance ; 
but he frequently makes honourable mention of the 
Society, and their labours'. 

Monconys, in his Journal des Voj/ages^ published 
in 1677, also gives an interesting account of the 
Royal Society, to which he was introduced by Sir R. 
Moray. He writes under the date of the 23rd May, 
1663 : — Je fas d» V Academic de Gressin^ aH ton 
s' assemble tons les Mercredis pour /aire une infiniU 
^experiences sur lesqaeUes on ne raisonne point en,* 
corey mais on les rapporte d mesure que quelquCtn 
Sfait^ et le Secretaire les escrit. Le President^ qui est 
Unijours une personne de condition^ est assis contre 

' Dr. Sprat published in 1668, OlservatwM on M. SarbHr^s 
Voyage into England^ in the form of a Letter to Dr. Wren^ Pro- 
fe99or of Astronomy in Oaford, I am led to mention this, as Dr. 
Sprat regarded M. Sorbi^re's book in the light of '*an insolent 
libel on the English nation." With respect to his remarks upon 
the Royal Society, he says, '^ He has been utterly mistaken in the 
report of their main design. There are two things that they have 
most industriously avoided, which he attributes to them : the one 
is, a dividing into parties and sects ; and the other, a reliance on 
hooke for their intelligence of nature- He first says, that they are 
not at all guided by the authority of Gassendus, or Des Cartes, 
but that the mathematicians are for Des Cartes, and the men of 
general learning for Gassendus. Whereas, neither of these two 
men bear any sway amongst them : they are never named there as 
dictators over men's reasons; nor is there any eztx^rdinary refer- 
ence to their judgments." He also asserts that the Royal Society, 
has appointed lodgings, and established four thousand livres a 
year on two professors, who shall read to them out of authors, 
and that they have begun a Library for that purpose. Whereas 
they have as yet no Library, but only a Repository for their 
Instruments and Rarities, they never intend a Professorian Philo- 
sophy, but declare against it ; with books they meddle not, farther 
than to see what experiments have been tried before : their revenue 
they designe for operators^ and not for lecturers." pp. 206, 7* 

^ Gresham College. 



170 HISTORY OF [1660—65. 

fine grands table quarrSe^ et le Secretaire d un autre, 
€080. Tom les apademistes son* mr des bancs qu'il 
y a autour de la sale. I^e President estoit le Milord 
Brunker^ et le Secretaire M. Oldembourg. Le Pre- 
sident a wn petit maiUet de hois d, la fnain, dont il 
Jrappe sur la tahle^ pour faire taire ceux qui vetUent 
purler^ lors qu'vn autre parle; ainsi il rCy a ny eon- 
fusion ny crierie. 

Moncoays paid' several visits to the Society, and 
frequently alludes to the number of experiments 
tried at the meetings^ adding: le Secretaire escrit 
T^et des eayperiences^ soit quit ait reussi^ ou qu'il 
ait manqt^f afifi qu'on puisse se dStfomper aussi Hen 
des fausses propositions^ que prqfiter des veritables. 

The evidence of Sorbi^re and Monconys is valu- 
able and interesting, as the observations of foreigners 
of education written on the spot, and who were not 
likely tp be prejudiced in favour of the Society. 

On the 30th Nov. 1663, the Society, according to 
the Journal-book, '^met in a solemn manner" to 
elect officers at 9 a. m., and celebrated their anni- 
versary by dining together. Evelyn, in his Diary^ 
says under the above date, "It being St. Andrew's 
day, who was our patron, each Fellow wore a St. 
Andrew's crosse of ribbon on the crown of his hat. 
After the jslection we dined together, his Majesty 
sanding us vmiison." At the anniversary dinner in 
1683, Evelyn rec(^ds that the King sent the Society 
two does. 

Tl^e accounts of the Treasurer, which were passed 
on this day, shqw that the amount received from the 
28th Nov. 1660 to June 1663, was £527. Qs. Qd, and 
the disbursements £479. 11^. 9(2., which included a 
sum of £11. 95., remitted by order of council to seve- 
ral members of the Society. 


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By a note it spears ths^t the axrears du^ by 
Fellows amounted to no less than £158. 4^. 6d. 

Great exertions were made tq collect (his sum, 
for the Society were in serious want of money to 
liable them to purchase instrumeQts and app^atus 
for experiments. It is recorded th^t Mr. Colwall, who 
was elected one of the new council, presented the 
Society with £60, for- which he was specially thai^ked, 
and Mr. Balle promised to make a Epilation tp the 
Society of £100*; — these sums, however, proye4 
insufficient to meet the growing wants ; and we find 
accordingly that at alnu)st every Meeting of the 
Council various measures were brought forward for 
increasing the income of the Society. 

Early in 1664, it was proposed '' tp solicit a grant 
from the King, of such lands as were left by thie sea;'' 
aiid it was moved '' that the King might be spoken 
to, to confer such pffle,es in the courts of Justice, or 
the Custom-house, as were in his Majesty'9 grant, 
upop some members of the Society for the use of the 

It was further resolved, "that every member of 
the Council should think on ways to raise a revenue 
for carrying on the design and work of the Society.*' 

The result of these deliberations was, a petition 
to the Kiag, praying his Majesty to grant Chelsea 
College, and the lands belonging to it, to the Royal 

' Tliis h^ did subsequently, and he also gaTe an iron chest 
bavipg three curious locks, which is stiQ in the Society's possesion. 

* Chelsea College was founded by James I., and was built 
upon a piece of ground called ^' Thame Shot," containing about six 
acres, then belonging to the Earl of Nottingham, and leased by hini 
to the College for the annual rent of 71. lOs. The King laid the. 



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172 HISTORY OF [1660 — 654 

The petition was presented to the King in the 
month of June, and referred by his Majesty to Sir 
Henry Bennet, one of the principal Secretaries of 

During the remainder of this year the Council 
used every exertion to procure a grant of the College, 
but there were too many difficulties in the way to hope 
for immediate success. Not the least of these was 
the circumstance that the College was claimed by 
two parties, who refused to give up their titles to the 
property without pecimiary satisfaction. Meanwhile, 
experiments were carried on with great vigour, and, 
in the beginning of 1664, the Society exercised their 
privilege of claiming the bodies of criminals exe- 
cuted at Tyburn, which were to be dissected in Gres- 
ham College. 

The warrant demanding the bodies was as follows : 

" These are to will and require you, that one Body, 

either Man or Woman, executed at Tybume this present 

, being the day of , such as the bearer 

first stone, and fprre all the necessary timber from Windsor Forest, 
but the building was noTer completed according to the original 
design. The College was intended for **' the defence of the true 
religion established within the realm, and for the refuting of errors 
and heresies repugnant to the same," and consisted of a ProYOst^ 
and seyenteen Fellows^ all of whom were divines. In 1610, an 
Act of Parliament was passed empowering the Fellows to supply 
London with water, to be conyeyed by pipes underground from 
the riyer Lea, the rents arising from which were to be deyoted to 
the muntenance of the College. And in 1616, the King directed 
the Archbishop of Canterbury ^Ho stir up all the Clergy for a 
liberal contribution in support of the College," but the sum thus 
collected was so small that the institution could not be maintained, 
and consequently fell to decay. See Fuller's Church IfUtory, Stow's 
London^ and CoUier's Ecclenastkal HisUny, 


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1660—65.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 173 

hereof shall chose, be delivered unto the said —— at 
the time and place of the said execution, for the use of 
the Royal Society ; he paying the ordinary fees for the 
same. — Given under my hand, the day and year above 

" Signed by the President. 
" To all whom it may concern." 

Dissecting instruments were provided at the ex- 
pense of the Society, and when it was proposed to 
dissect a body, the following notice was sent to each 

** You are desired to take notice that there will be 
an anatomical administration at Gresham College to 
begin at day at ten of the dock precisely." 

In the month of June 1664, Sir John Cutler 
founded a Professorship of Mechanics, and with the 
concurrence of the Council of the Royal Society, set- 
tled an annual stipend of £50 during life upon Hooke, 
empowering the President, Council, and Fellows of the 
Society to appoint the subjects and number of lec- 
tures. On the 23rd Nov. Hooke was proposed for 
the office of Curator to the Society, and on the 11th 
Jan. 1665, he was elected "for perpetuity, with a 
salary of £30 a year pro tempore^ Apartments in 
Gresham College were also assigned as his resi- 

In November 1664, the President, by order of the 

7 Dissectioiis of the human body were at this period often 
witnessed by persons of rank. Pepys says in his Diary^ that 
'* Charles the Second saw Dr. Clark and Mr. Pierce dissect two 
bodies, a man and a woman, with which His Majesty was highly 
pleased." Vol. i. p. 217. 


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if 4: HISTORY OF [1660-^65. 

Council, signed a license for pirinting Hdoke's Micros 
graphia ; which, whilst in manuscript, had frequently 
been brought befote the Society. In a letter to Boyle, 
dated November 24, 1664, Hooke says: "My micro- 
scopical observations had been printed off above it 
mouth, but the stay that has retarded the publishing 
of them, has been the examination of them by several 
members of the Society." 

The work was published in 1665, and is dedicated 
to the Society. Hooke was very desirous that his 
theories should not be supposed to represent the' 
opinion of the Society. In the dedication he says: 
" The rules you have prescribed yourselves in your 
philosophical progress, do seem the best that have 
ever yet been practised; and particularly that of 
avoiding dogmatizing, and the espousal of any hypo- 
thesis not sufficiently grounded and confirmed by 
experiments. This way seems the most excellent, 
and may preserve both philosophy and natural his- 
tory from its former corruptions. In saying which, 
I may seem to condemn my own course in this trea^ 
tise, in which there may perhaps be some expressions 
which may seem more positive than your prescrip- 
tions will permit. And though I desire to have them 
understood only as conjectures and queries (which 
your method does not altogether disallow), yet if even 
in those I have exceeded, it is fit I should declare 
that it was not done by your directions." 

Some idea may be formed of the activity of the 
Society at this period, by the following list of eight 
committees appointed on the 30th March, 1664. 1. 
Mechanical, consisting of 69 members. 2. Astronomi- 
cal and Optical, consisting of 15 members. 3. Ana- 
tomical, consisting of Boyle^ Hooke, Dr. Wilkim^ and 


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1660 — 65.1 THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 1*75 

all the physicians of the Society. 4. Chymical, cotiH 
prising all the physicians of the Society, and seven 
other Fellows. 5. Georgical, consisting df 32 mem- 
bers. 6. For histories of Trades, consisting of 86 
members. 7. For collecting all the phaenoinena of 
Nature hitherto observed, and all experiihents made 
and recorded, consisting of 21 inembenrs. 8. For Cor- 
respondence, consisting of 20 members®. 

It was expected during the early part of this year 
that the King would have honoured the Society with 
his presence, and consequently many expefriments 
were prepared for the entertainment of his Majesty, 
who, however, does not alppear to have paid the con- 
templated visit*. 

In this year the Charter-book was opened. Thiii 
is a very handsome volume, bound in crimson velvet, 
with gold clasps and corners, having on one side a 
gold plate bearing the shield of the Society, and on 
the other side a correspionditig plate showing the 

^ In a letter to Boyle, dated London, June lO, 1663, Olden- 
burg says, his Paris correspondetits i^to to dssnfe him ibat ihb 
English Philosophers do more for scietce than t&tUs» les autre$ 
peuplea de V Europe^ nous ayans donnS quantitS dh ekoies eurietiim 
et particulieres autre les grands outyrages qu'ils <mt donni au public. 
Archives Royal Society, Letters. Oldenburg and an Italian named 
Galeazzo Yictorio Villaro di Stato wrote several verses in praise of 
the Ro3ral Society at this period. 

^ The reader will probably remember having read in more 
than one work that Charles II. visited the Society. It is evident 
that the Fellows expected this honour, and frequently made pre- 
parations to recdve the King ; but there is no Minute of his having 
attended any Meeting, and it is only reasonable to conclude that 
had he been present, the fiict would have been duly recorded. 
Experiments were often made before the King at his palace and 
elsewhere, by Fellows of the Society, and this has probably led to 
the error of supposing that he visited Gresham College. 


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176 HISTORY OF [1660 — G5. 

crest ; — an [eagle Or, holding a shield with the arms 
of England. The leaves of this book are of the finest 
vellum. The arms of England superbly emblazoned, 
adorn the first page, and those of the Society, equally 
well executed, appear on the next. A copy of the 
second Charter follows, occupying seventeen pages 
and a half. This is succeeded by sixteen pages, con^ 
taining the third Charter; and this, again, by the 
Statutes of various dates, extending over sixty-six 
pages. Eleven blank leaves then intervene, after 
which the first page of the autograph portion of the 
volume exhibits, within an ornamented scroll-border 
headed by the Royal shield, the signatures Charles R., 
Founder *^ — James, Fellow", — and George Rupert, 
Fellow. All these autographs are in good preserva- 
tion ; that of Charles II. having been evidently written 
with a finely pointed pen, is not so distinct as the 
others, but is nevertheless quite legible. The next 
page is occupied with the autographs of various 
foreign ambassadors; and the third and succeeding 
pages contain the signatures of the Fellows beneath 
the obligation which heads each leaf 

It is impossible to regard the venerated pages of 
this most valuable Autograph-book without feelings 
of deep emotion. As we turn over the leaves, the 
eye is arrested by names glorious to the memory of 
Englishmen ; Clarendon, Boyle, Wallis, Wren, Hooke, 

i<> Written January 9, 1664—6. 

^' Pepys says in his Diary, under the date January 9, 1665, 
'* I saw the Royal Society bring their new book, wherein is nobly 
writ their Charter and Laws, and comes to be signed by the Duke 
as a Fellow; and all the Fellows hands are to be entered there, 
and lie as a Monument ; and the King hath put his with the word 
Founder." Vol. i. p. 324. ^..^ 


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1660 — 65.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 177 

Evelyn, Pepys, Norfolk, Flamsteed, Newton", are here 
together with all their fellow-labourers in science. 

In truth, it would be difficult to over-estimate the 
interest and value of this book, containing as it does 
the autographs of nearly all the illustrious patrons of 
philosophy, and scientific and literary individuals, 
from the time of the incorporation of the Royal 
Society, to the present period. Here are the auto« 
graphs of the successive Kings and Queens of Eng- 
land, as well as many of the Sovereigns of foreign 
countries, who have visited England. Our gracious 
Queen has signed her name as Patron of the Society, 
and on the same page, which is richly illuminated, 
are the signatures of Prince Albert, and the Kings of 
Prussia and Saxony. Seventy-one pages are occupied 
by the autographs of the Fellows (including those on 
the Foreign list), and as these men represent the sci- 
ence of Europe, the volume, rich as it is at present, is 
annually becoming of greater value and interest. 

On the 1st March, 1664 — 5, it was ordered at a 
Meeting of the Council, "That the Philosophical 
Transactions, to be composed by Mr. Oldenburg, be 
printed the first Monday of every month, if he have 
sufficient matter for it ; and that the tract be licensed 
by the Council of the Society, being first reviewed by 
some of the members of the same; and that the 

^ It 18 worthy of remark, that the name immediately be- 
neath that of Newton, though in characters four times the siase 
of those of the illustrious Philosopher, is nearly obliterated, by 
the sad habit of touching. Individuals tcill persist in forgetting 
that the drop wears the stone away, and that each rub of the 
finger on the page (though the latter be vellum), will infallibly, 
at length, obliterate the autograph — and in time destroy the vellum 

VOL. I. N 


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178 HISTORY OF [1660 — €5. 

President be now desired to license the first papers 
thereof, being written in four sheets in folio, to be 
printed by John Martyn and James AUestree"." In 
conformity with this order, the first number of the 
Transdctions appeared on Monday, the 6th March* 
It consists of 16 quarto pages, at the 'end of which 
are the words, "Printed with license/' The dedica* 
tion is : — 

"To THE Royal Society. 

" It will not become me to adde any attributes to 
a Title, which has a fulness of lustre from his Majestie's 

" In these rude collections, which are only the glean- 
ings of my private diversions in broken hours, it may 
appear, that many minds and hands are in many places 
industriously employed, under yoiur countenance, and by 
yoiur example, in the pursuit of those excellent ends, 
which belong to your heroical undertakings. 

** Some of them are but the intimations of large 
compilements. And some eminent members of your 
Society, have obliged the learned world with incom- 
parable Volumes, which are not herein mentioned, be- 
cause they were finish't, and in great reputation abroad, 
before I entered upon this taske. And no small num- 
ber are at present engaged for those weighty productions, 
which require both time and assistance for their due 
maturity. So that no man can, from these glimpses of 
light, take any just measure of your performances, or of 
yoiur prosecutions ; but every man may perhaps receive 
some benefit firom these parcels, which I guessed to be 
somewhat conformable to your design. 

" Printers to the Society. 

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1665 — 70.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 179 

" This is my solicitude ; that, as I ought not to be 
unfaithful to those counsels you have committed to my 
trust, so also that I may not altogether waste any minutes 
of the leasure you afford me. And thus have I made 
the best use of some of them that I could devise ; to 
spread abroad encotu*agements, inquiries, directions and 
patterns, that may animate and draw on uniyersal assist- 

" The great God prosper you in the noble engage- 
ment of dispersing the true lustre of his glorious works, 
and the happy inventions of obliging men all over the 
world, to the general benefit of mankind I So wishes with 
real affections, 

" Your humble and obedient Servant, 
"Henry Oldenburg.'* 

The contents of the first number are : 
" An Introduction. An Accompt of the Improve- 
ment of Optick Glasses at Rome. Of the Observation 
made in England of a Spot in one of the Belts of the 
Planet Jupiter. Of the Motion of the late Comet pre- 
dicted. The heads of many new Observations and Ex- 
periments, in order to an Experimental History of Cold, 
together with some thermometrical discourses and ex- 
periments. A relation of a very odd monstrous Calf. 
Of a peculiar Lead Ore in Germany, very useful for ' 
essays. Of an Hungarian Bolus, of the same effect with 
the Bolus Armenus. Of the new American Whale-fish- 
ing about the Bermudas. A Narrative concerning the 
success of the Pendulum-watches at sea for the Longi- 
tudes ; and the grant of a Patent thereupon. A Cata- 
logue of the Philosophical Books publisht by Monsieur 
de Fermat, Counsellour at Tholouse, lately dead." 

The Introduction, written also by Oldenburg, comes 
next : — 



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180 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

" Whereas there is nothing more necessary for pro- 
moting the improvement of philosophical matters, than the 
communicating to such as apply their studies and endea- 
vours that way, such things as are discovered and put in 
practice by others ; it is therefore thought fit to employ 
the press^ as the most proper way to gratifie those whose 
engagement in such studies, and delight in the advance- 
ment of learning and profitable discoveries, doth entitle 
them to the knowledge of what this kingdom, or other 
parts of the world, do from time to time, afibrd, as well 
as of the progress of the studies, labours, and attempts, 
of the curious and leaiqied in things of this kind, as of 
their compleat discoveries and performances : to the end 
that such productions, being clearly and truly communi- 
cated, desires after solid and usefull knowledge may be 
further entertained, ingenious endeavours and under- 
takings cherished, and those addicted to or conversant 
in such matters may be invited and encouraged to 
search, try, and find out new things, impart their know« 
ledge to one another, and contribute what they can to 
the grand design of improving natural knowledge, and 
perfecting all Philosophical Arts and Sciences. All for the 
glory of God, the honour and advantage of these king- 
doms, and the universal good of mankind/' 

The foregoing extracts are not only interesting 
in themselves, but necessary to our purpose to show 
the manner in which the Philosophical Transdctions, 
which have acquired a celebrity extending over the 
civilized world, were commenced". Their publication. 

^^ It is a curious and lemarkable fact, that almost all the Phi- 
losophical Papers in the early numbers of the Journal des Sfavant^ 
.first published on the 5th January, 1665, are translations of the 
' papers in the Philosophical Transactions. 


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1665 — 70.] THE HOYAL SOCIETY. 181 

as already explained, was undertaken by Oldenburg, 
who carried on the work until the period of his death 
in 1677. The Secretaries who succeeded Oldenburg 
continued, in like manner, to superintend the publi- 
cation of the Transactions until the year 1750, when 
a Committee was appointed for this purpose. It is 
unnecessary to enter into any further details here, as 
a Table will be found in the Appendix, showing the 
Numbers, Volumes, and Editors of the Philosophical 
Transactions from their commencement. 

Although the Transactions were published by the 
Secretaries, and a notice to this effect was inserted in 
the early numbers, yet it was generally believed that 
they emanated from the Royal Society. To correct 
this mistake, the following notification was inserted 
at the end of the 12th Number : 

" Whereas 'tis taken notice of, that severall persons 
persuade themselves that these PAilascphiccU Transactions 
are published by the Boyal Society, notwithstanding 
many circumstances, to be met with in the already pub- 
lish't ones, that import the tentrary ; the writer thereof 
hath thought fit expressly here to declare, that that 
perswasion, if there be any such indeed, is a meer mis- 
take ; and that he upon his private account (as a 
well-wisher to the advancement of usefull knowledge, 
and a furtherer thereof by such conununications, as he 
is capable to furnish by that philosophical! correspond- 
ency, which he entertains and hopes to enlarge,) hath 
begun and continues both the composure and publica- 
tion thereof. Though he denies not, but that, having 
the honour and advantage of being a Fellow of the said 
Society, he inserts at times some of the particulars 
that are presented to them ; to wit, such ds he knows 
he may mention without offending them, or transgress* 


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182 HISTORY OF [ 1665— 7a 

ing iheir orders ; tending only to administer occasion 
to others also to consider and carry them further, or 
to observe and experiment the like, according as the 
nature of such things may require." 

It may be remarked, however, that the intrinsic 
value of the Transactions depended very much on the 
various Presidents, and Councils, who had the power of 
licensing the publication of papers '^ 

On the 28th June, 1665, the weekly Meetings of 
the Society were discontinued on account of the plague, 
which was then extending its fatal influence through- 

^ In a MS. letter of Oldenbuig to Boyle, dated London, Decem- 
ber 19, 1665, we have the foUowiog interesting account of the sale 
of the Tran$actwn8 : 

" Mr. Davis (the printer) wrote me the other day so heavy 
a letter, that it would very much slacken any man's pace in con- 
tinuing such labor. For he tells me, that of the first Tramao' 
tiarii he printed, he had not vended above 300, and that he fears 
there will hardly sell so many as to repay the charge of paper 
and printing, so that it seems my pains and trouble would be of no 
avayle to me. Yet he concludes that, notwithstanding these dis- 
eonragements, if you and I doe think to have any more printed at 
Oxford, he will readily serve us in the managing thereof, and the 
present disbursing of the charge ; intimating withall, that he under- 
took to print these papers, provided he might be secured from being 
a loser by it. What to say to this I know not ; if Mr. Davis give 
over, it will look very ill, and if he continue, I must sufier very 
much. He thinks that London being like to be open now fox com- 
merce, if he do send to three or four active stationers in severall 
quarters of the town, and besides to Cambridge, Exeter, Brystoll, 
&c., item to Ireland and Scotland; a far greater number should 
then go off, but if he be not a man of a large and active correspond- 
ence, I had done much better never to have committed it to hinu 
He should send some copies to a good bookseller about the fix- 
change (for there I find they are inquired after,) and to another 
about Dunstan's in Fleet Street, and to another about Westminster, 
and so dispose them to the chief parts of the city, especially now 
carriers begin to return hither." iirchives Royal Society. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 183 

out London and Westminster. Most of the Fellows 
retired into the country, being previously " exhorted 
by the President to bear in mind the several tasks 
laid upon them, that they might give a good account 
of them at their return." 

Oldenburg, however, remained at his house in 
Pall Mall during the entire period of the raging of 
the plague, and carried on a correspondence with 
Boyle and others, on scientific matters^^ 

In a letter to Boyle, dated July 4, 1665, he says : 

'' If the plague should come into this row where I 
am, I think I should then change my thoughts and re- 
tire mto the country, if I could find a sojourning comer. 
In the meantime, I am not a little perplexed concerning 
the books and papers belonging to the Society, that are 
in my custody ; all I can think of to do in this case is, 
to make a list of them aU, and to put them up by them- 
selves in a box, and seal them together with a super- 
scription, that so in case the Lord should visit me, as 
soon as I find myself not well, it may be sent away out 
of mine to a sound house, and sic deinceps.^ 

During the continuance of the plague, several 
Fellows of the Society remained at Oxford, where, 
according to the following interesting letter from 
Boyle to Oldenburg, they were in the habit of meet^ 
ing in the lodgings of the former. 

" Oxford, Sept 30, 1666. 
** To do any thing that is philosophical, I see I must 
withdraw from this place, where the making and receiving 
of visits takes up almost all my time. Yet I had the 

*• Several of Oldenbur^s letters written during thb period are 
ia the archiyes of the Societj. 


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184 HISTOBY OF [1665 — 70. 

honour of one that made me amends for all the rest^ 
which you will easily believe when I tell you that it was 
made me by Sir Robert Moray, Sir Paul Neile, Sir Wil- 
liam Petty, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Coxe, Cap. Graunt, Mr. 
Williamson, (and afterwards Mr. Secretary Morris, who 
yet knew nothing of the company he found). These 
gentlemen I had put in mind, that there being now at 
Oxford no inconsiderable number of the Boyal Society, 
insomuch that the King seeing Sir Robert Moray and 
me with some others was pleased to take notice of it ; 
I did not know why we might not, though not as a 
Society, yet as a company of virtuosi, renew our Meet- 
ings ; and being put upon naming the day and place, I 
proposed Wednesday as an auspicious day, being, as you 
know, that of our former assemblies, and for the place 
till they could be better accommodated, I offered them 
my lodging, where over a dish of fruit we had a great 
deal of pleasing discourse and some experiments that I 
shewed them, particularly one, which was thought odd 
enough, of turning a liquor like fair water in a moment 
fito an inky substance, and presently changing that, first 
into a clear liquor, and then into a white one almost 
like milk. That Mr. Oldenburg was mentioned and 
drunk to by some of us, I have scarce time and paper 
to inform you, and that you were wish'd here, you wiU, 
I hope, easily believe, if you remember that there was 
in this company, besides Sir Robert Moray, Sir William 
Petty and Dr. Wallis, 

" Your very affectionate friend, 
" Robert Boyle." 
During this melancholy period the seventh and 
eighth numbers of the Philosophical Transactions 
were printed at Oxford, in consequence of the impos- 
sibility of finding printers in London to execute the. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 185 

work. Hooke remained in London until the 15th 
July, when he accompanied Sir William Petty and 
Dr. Wilkins to Durdens, the seat of Lord Berkeley, 
near Epsom, where several experiments were made. 
Previous to his departure, he addressed a letter to 
Boyle, in which he communicated his ideas of the 
cause and nature of the plague. " I cannot," he says, 
**from any information I can learn of it, judge what 
its cause should be; but it seems to proceed only 
from infection or contagion, and that not catched but 
by some near approach to some infected person or 
stuff. Nor can I at all imagine it to be in the air, 
though yet there is one thing, which is very different 
to what is usual in other hot summers, and that is a 
very great scarcity of flies and insects. I know not 
whether it be universal, but it is here at London most 

It was not until February 1665 — 6, that there were 
a sufficient number of Fellows in London to enable 
the Meetings of the Council at Gresham College to 
be resumed. On the 3rd February, Hooke in a letter 
to Boyle says, '' I hope we shall have again a Meeting, 
within this week or fortnight at farthest ; and then I 
hope we shall prosecute experiments and observations 
much more vigorously, in order to which also I design, 
God willing, very speedily to make me an operatory, 
which I design to furnish with instruments and en- 
gines of all kinds, for making examination of the 
nature of bodies optical, chemical, mechanical," &c. 
He also observes in the same letter : *' I am now making 
a collection of natural rarities, and hope within a 
short time to get as good as any that have been yet 

17 Boyle's Workt^ VoL v. p. 643. 

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186 HISTORY OF [1665 — ^70. 

made in any part of the world, through the bounty 
of some of the noble-minded persons of the Royal 

On the 21st Feb. 1665 — 6, the Council met again 
in Gresham College, Lord Brouncker the President 
being in the chair ; at this Meeting it was resolved 
"that the donation of £100 presented by Mr. Col- 
wall, should be expended in purchasing the collection 
of rarities formerly belonging to Mr. Hubbard;" and 
Oldenburg, writing to Boyle three days after the 
above Meeting, calls this ''a very handsome collec- 
tion of natural things ;"" and adds, ''we are now 
undertaking several good things, as the collecting a 
repository", the setting up a chemical laboratory, a 
mechanical operatory, an astronomical observatory, 
and an optick chamber : but the paucity of the under- 
takers is such, that it must needs stick, unless more 
come in, and put their shoulders to the work. We 
know, Sir, you can and will do much to advance these 
attempts ; and we hope the heavens are reconciled to 
us, to free us from the infection, and to return you 
to London." 

The purchase of this collection was the first step 
of any magnitude towards the formation of a Museum, 
which eventually became the most extensive in Lon- 
don. The Fellows had already presented a few 

w Boyle's Wcrhf, Vol. v. p. 645. 

10 Evelyn has in his Diary, Oct. 1666, ''I made the Royal 
Society a present of the Table of Veins, Arteries, and Nerves, which 
great curioeitie I had caused to be made in Italy, out of the natural 
human bodies, by a learned physitian, and the help of Vestlinguis 
(Professor at Padua), from which I brought them in 1646." 
Evelyn received the thanks of the Society for this present. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 18? 

curiosities, but these were not sufficiently numerous 
to form a collection. 

The only Museum, worthy the name at this time 
in London, was that formed by the Tradescants, a 
catalogue of which was published in 1656, entitled 
Museum Tradescantium, or A Collection of Rarities 
preserved at South Lambeth^ near London. This 
museum contained not only stuffed animals and dried 
plants, but also minerals; implements of war and 
domestic use of various nations, also a collection of 
coins and medals. The Tradescants were very remark- 
able men^. John Tradescant, the elder, was a Dutch- 
man; he travelled over Europe, Greece, Turkey, 
Egypt, and Barbary, and finally settled in England, 
as superintendent of the gardens of Charles I. During 
his travels, he procured specimens of whatever was 
rare and curious*', amongst which we find enumerated 
in his Catalogue, " Two feathers of the phoenix tayle^ 
and "a natural dragcmr Tradescant's son, having 
imbibed his father's spirit, followed his example ; and 
by their joint exertions a very large collection was 
brought together. Parkinson, in his Paradism ter* 
restriSy mentions the father as ^' a painful industrious 
searcher and lover of all nature's varieties," and having 
'' wonderfully laboured to obtain all the rarest firuits 
he can hear of in any place of Christendom, Turkey, 
yea, or the whole world." 

In 1650, the younger Tradescant became acquainted 

^ Some exceediDgly curious ai^ interesting information respect* 
ing the Tradescants and Russia is contained in a work, by Dr. Hamel, 
entitled, Tradescant der Aeltere in Eussland. 4to, St. Petersburg, 


^ The head of the dodo, (a bird now considered to be extinct,) in 
the Ashmolean Museum, was obtained by him. 


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188 HISTORY OF [l665 — 70. 

with Elias Ashmole, who, with his wife» lived in the 
virtuoso's house during the summer of 1652. The 
result was so close a friendship, that Tradescant, at 
his death in 1662, left his museum to Ashmole, who, 
in 1682, bequeathed it to the University of Oxford, 
where it forms a portion of what is still called the 
Ashmolean Museum. 

Dr. Hamel, in his Tradescawt in Russland, states 
that Peter the Great visited the * Tradescant Ashmo- 
lean Museum' in 1698". 

The Tradescants possessed large gardens at South 
Lambeth, filled with various rare plants^, the renuuns 
of which were still to be seen in 1749, when they 
were visited by Sir W. Watson, and described by 
him in the 46th Volume of the Philosophical Trans^ 

Some coffee-houses in London possessed small 
museums^ which served as attractions to the public. 
In 1664, an exhibition, opened in connexion with a 
house of entertainment, was thus advertised: *'A 
Catalogue of Natural Rarities, collected with great 
industry, to be seen at the place called the Music 
House at the Mitre, near the west end of St. Paul's 
Church." Don Saltero's Coffee-house and Museum 
were celebrated things in their day. The Don had been 
a servant of Sir Hans Sloane, who gave him many 
curiosities for his Museum : this was situated in Cheyne 
Walk, Chelsea, where the site is still occupied by an 
Hotel. The catalogue ran : — "A Catalogue of Rarities. 
To be seen at Don Salter's Coffee-house in Chelsea ; 

» P. 175. 

^ The Tradescants introduced many new plants into Great 
Britain, some of which bear their name. 


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1665—70.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 189 

to which is added a complete list of the Donors there- 
of. Price Two Pence. O Rare !'' 

Immediately after the purchase of Mr. Hubbard's 
collection, the Society received so many accessions to 
their Museum, that application was made to the Trus- 
tees of Gresham College, praying ''that they would 
be pleased to repair the floors and windows in the 
west gallery of the said College, where the Society's 
repository is to be." 

Many presents were sent from abroad, at the 
request of Oldenburg, who was indefatigable in his 
correspondence with eminent foreigners. The first 
volume of the Letter-book contains a great number 
of letters written by him to persons on the Continent, 
who were in a situation to contribute to the Museum, 
or furnish useful information. The following extract 
from a letter to Mr. Henry Howard (afterwards Duke 
of Norfolk), then on the Continent, is a very fair spe- 
cimen of the nature of these communications. 

' " It would be a great favour, if by your interest we 
might obtain some philosophical correspondents in the 
chief cities of Italy, and particularly at Florence, Pisa, 
Bologna, Milan, Venice, Naples and Rome. Riccio, 
Cassini, Fabri, Borelli and Campani, are no inconsider- 
able persons for such a commerce, and they may be 
iassured that I shall make it a good part of my study to 
make some return. 

''Methinks it were worth our knowledge whether 
there are not now some persons in Italy that know the 
old Roman way of plaistering, and the art of tempering 
tools to cut porphyry, the hardest of marbles. 

''There is a curious artificial marble adorning the 
Elector of Bavaria's whole palace at Munchen, which we 


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190 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

should be also glad to know the preparation of, and 
have a specimen. 

'' I am' lately informed that there is a mineral salt 
plentifully to be found in the mines of Calabria, which 
has this particularity, that, being cast into the fire, 
cracks not, nor breaks in pieces. A specimen of that 
also would be acceptable." 

The result of these letters was, that Oldenburg 
acquired a vast amount of information from foreign 
correspondents, which he duly imparted to the Society, 
and procured many valuable specimens for the Museum. 
Some of these are very curious. It is stated that " Sir 
B. Moray presented the stones taken out of Lord Bel- 
Carre's heart in a silver box ;" and " a bottle full of 
stag's tears." Hooke gave '' a petrified fish, the skin of 
an antelope which died in St. James's Park, a petrified 
foetus," and other equally extraordinary things, which 
the Society not inappropriately called * rarities.* The 
Trustees of Gresham College repaired the long gallery, 
and rendered it fit to contain the Museum, which 
increased rapidly. 

On the 14th March, 1665 — 6, after an interruption 
of more than eight months, the weekly Meetings were 
resumed, and numerous investigations made respect- 
ing the late plague ; the Masters of the Pest-house 
promising to send in their observations on it, at the 
request of Dr. Charlton". The latter related at the 

^ Dr. Hodges, one of the city physicians during the plague, was 
of opinion, " that the true pestilential spots called the tokens, were 
gangrenated flesh, of a pyramidal figure, penetrating to the very bone, 
with its basis downwards, altogether mortified and insensible, 
though a pin or any other sharp body were thrust into it, and 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 191 

Meeting on the 21st March, that the notion concern- 
ing '' the vermination of the air as the cause of the 
plague, first started in England by Sir George Ent, 
and afterwards managed in Italy by Father Kircher, 
was so much farther advanced there, that by the rela- 
tion of Dr. Bacon, who had long practised physic at 
Rome, it had been observed there that there was a 
kind of insect in the air, which being put upon a 
man's hand, would lay eggs hardly discernible with- 
out a microscope ; which eggs being for an experi- 
ment given to be snuffed up by a dog, the dog fell 
into a distemper, accompanied with all the symptoms 
of the plague^." 

The Annual Meeting of the Society was held on 
the 11th of April, the plague having prevented its 
being held on the preceding St, Andrew's day. The 
Treasurer's account showed that he had received 
£290. 7^. 4d., and expended £256. 4^. 8rf., while the 
arrears of Fellows who had not paid their subscrip- 
tions amounted to £678. 5^. ! 

This awakens melancholy reflections, and is pain- 
ful evidence of the crippled state of the Society. 
Royal in title, but almost paupers in fact, they 
had to struggle on, unassisted by the bounty of him 
who incorporated them. Deserving, assuredly, of great 
praise is that little band of truth-seekers, who despite 
all difficulties carried on the good work of promoting 
knowledge,^ and thereby increasing the happiness of 
mankind. It appears by the Minutes of Council, that 

(what the Doctor thought especially remarkahle), the next adjoin- 
ing parts of the flesh though not discoloured, yet mortified as 
well as the discoloured ones." Register-hook, Vol. n. p. 245. 
^ Register, Vol. n. p. 271. 


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192 HISTORY OF [1665—70. 

great exertions were made at this period to recover 
the arrears, but with very indifferent success. Olden- 
burg writing to Boyle, says, " How to get them paid 
is the all-important question." 

Meanwhile experiments were prosecuted, and seve- 
ral valuable Papers read. On the 20th June, the 
first notice of the remarkable operation of the trans- 
fusion of blood, is recorded in the Journal-book. Dr. 
Wallis related the success of the experiment made at 
Oxford by Dr. Lower, " of transfusing the bloud of 
one animal into the body of another, viz. that having 
opened the jugular artery of a mastiff, and injected 
by the means of quils the bloud thereof into the jugu- 
lar vein of a greyhound, and opened also a vein in 
the same greyhound, to let out so much of his bloud 
as was requisite for the receiving that of the mas- 
tiff; the mastiff at last dyed, having lost almost all 
his bloud, and the greyhound having his vessels 
closed, survived, and ran away welP." 

This account created considerable interest amongst 
the Fellows, and Boyle was requested to procure 
from Dr. Lower a detailed description of the manner 
in which the experiment was conducted, in order that 
it might be tried before the Society. 

The desired account was subsequently laid before 
the Society, and on the 22nd August, Hooke was 
ordered to make the necessary preparations for the 

The great Fire, which broke out on Sunday, Sep- 
tember the 2nd, not only delayed the trial of this 
experiment, but interrupted the Meetings of the So- 
ciety, as appears by the following entry in the Jour- 

*• Register, Vol. m. p. 4. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 193 

nal-book» under the date of Sept. 5 : " The Society 
could not meet by reason of the late dreadfull Fire 
in London." And again, on the 12th Sept., "The 
Society being taken up with the considerations of the 
place for their future Meetings in this time of publick 
disorder and unsettlement, by reason of the late sad 
Fire, was thereby hindered from making experiments, 
and discoursing of philosophical matters, as they use 
to doe." The Fire did not extend to Gresham College, 
nor indeed beyond the end of Bishopsgate Street ; but 
as the College was required for the use of the Lord 
Mayor and merchants, it became necessary to seek 
some other place of meeting^. In the meanwhile, 
it was resolved that the Society should assemble in 
Dr. Pope's lodgings in Gresham College. On the 19th 
September, the President reported that Mr. Howard 
had offered the Society rooms in Arundel House. The 
Council-minutes have no further notice of this report ; 
than thanks to Mr. Howard for " his great respect 
and civility to the Society f but we find from other 
sources, that his offer was subsequently accepted, al- 
though the Fellows did not meet in Arundel House 
until the following January. In November, ** it was 
taken into consideration where the Society should meet 
for the future, Gresham College being too distant from 
the habitations of the Fellows generally, and the Earl 
of Northampton and the Bishop of Exeter were desired 
to speak to the Duke of Buckingham, that he would 

^ Oldenburg in a letter to Boyle, dated Sept. 18^ 1666, 
writes, '^ all the hitherto printed Transactioru which were carried 
into St Faith's Church under Paul's were burnt." In a subse- 
quent letter, dated Oct. 23, he complains of not being able to get 
any person to print the Tranioetions. No. 18 was printed for 
John Crook, in Duck Lane. Archives : Royal Society. 
VOL. I. O 


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194 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70, 

accommodate the Society with rooms in York House 
for their Meetings"." 

It is worthy of remark, that on the 19th of Sep- 
tember, Hooke exhibited to the Society, a model of 
his construction for rebuilding the city, which gave 
great satisfaction, not only to the Society, but also to 
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, who, according to the 
minutes in the Journal-book, ** expressed a desire that 
it might be shewn to his Majestic, they preferring it 
fer before that which was drawn up by the surveyor 
of the city." Waller, in his Life qf Hookey remarks, 
that he had been given to understand, ''that this 
model designed the chief streets, as from Leadenhall* 
comer to Newgate, and the like, to lie in a straight 
line, and all the other cross-streets turning out of 
them at right angles^." 

At the Meeting on the 14th November the expe* 

^ Oldenburg says, writing to Boyle, " the Citty are striving 
hard to get the College totally igto their hands for this time of 
distresse; which if they obtain, the Society are provided with 
another place to meet in, to wit, in Arundel House." MS. Letters^ 
Archives : Royal Society. 

*• Wren had previously '* drawn a modell for a new Citty, 
and presented it to the King, who produced it himselfe before his 
Councill, and manifested much approbation of it." Oldenburg 
was vexed that Wren haA not submitted his model in the first 
instance to the Royal Society, who, on approving it, would have 
laid it before the King. Evelyn also prepared a plan, as he says 
in his Diary, under the date of Sept. 13. ^' I presented his Ma^ 
with a survey of the mines, and a plot for a new Citty, with a 
discourse on it." In a letter to Sir Samuel Tuke, dated Sept. 27, 
he writes, '' I presented his Ma^ with my own conceptions, which 
was the second within two days after the conflagration, but Dr. 
Wren got the start of me. We often coincided." IHary^ Vol. i. 
p. 377* Part of Evel3m's plan consisted in lessening the declivities 
and filling up the shore of the river to low-wate): mark. 


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1665 — 70.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 195 

rimeot of transfusing the ''bloud of one dog into 
another" was first made before the Society**. The 
operation was performed by Mr. King and Mr. Cox, 
upon a little mastiff and a spaniel, ''with/' says the 
Journal-book, " very good successe, the former bleed- 
ing to death, and the latter receiving the bloud of the 
other, and emitting so much of his own, as to make 
him capable of receiving that of the other." It was 
ordered at the next Meeting, that '' the experiment of 
exchanging the bloud of animals be prosecuted and 
improved, by bleeding a sheep into a mastiff, and 
a youngv healthy dog into an old and sick one, and 
mce versdr 

This experiment seems to have created great inter- 
est. Pepys writes in his Diary ^ under the date of 
Nov. 16, 1666, " This noon met Mr. Hooke, who tells 
me the dog which was filled with another dog's blood 
at the College the other day is very well, and like to 
be so ever, and doubts not its being found of great 
use to men, and so Dr. Whistler, who dined with us 
at the tavern." 

The Journal-book contains the records of several 
experiments of the above nature made upon various 
animals, all of which appear to have been successful. 

On the 2nd Jan. 1666-7, Mr. Henry Howard pre- 

^ Wren had previously injected yarious liquors into living 
animals. In a letter to Sir W. Petty, (1656), he says, " The most 
considerable experiment I have made of late is this; — ^I injected 
wine and ale into the mass of blood in a living dog, by a vein, in 
good quantities, till he became extremely drunk, but soon after 
voided it by urine. It will be too long to teU you the effects of 
opium, scammony, and other things which I have tried in this way. 
I am in further pursuit of the experiment, which I take to be of 
great concernment, and what will give great light to the theory 
and practice of physic." Parentalia^ p. 228. 



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196 HISTORY OF [1665 — ^70. 

sented the Society with "the Library of Arundel House, 
to dispose thereof as their property, desiring only that 
in case the Society should come to faile, it might 
return to Arundel House; and that this inscription. 
Ex dono Henrid Hovoard NtyrfcldendSy might be 
put upon everjr book given them. The Society," it is 
added, '^received this noble donation with all thank- 
fuUnesse, and ordered that Mr. Howard should be 
registered as a benefactor'\" 

This gift may be regarded as the nucleus of the 
Society's valuable Library*". The history of the Arun- 
del Library is interesting. — ^It formed originally a por- 
tion of the collection of Matthias Corvinus» King of 
Hungary, and after his death came into the possession 
of the celebrated Bilibaldus Pirckeimerus of Nurem- 
berg, who died in 1530. It was purchased by Mr. 
Howard's grandfather, Thomas, Earl of Arundel, during 

'^ Henry Howard was the second son of Henry Earl of Arandel, 
and became, on the death of bis brother Thomas^ sixth Duke of 
Norfolk. He was a great benefactor to the Royal Society, and 
presented the Arandel Marbles to the University of Oxford. He 
died in 1683—4. 

^ £vel3m says, it was at his instigation that Mr. Howard 
^'granted the Society use of rooms in Arundel House^ and also 
bestowed upon them that noble Library, which his grandfather 
especially, and his ancestors had coUected." But this gentleman, he 
adds, ^' had so little inclination to bookes that this was the preser- 
vation of them from embezzlement." Diary ^ Yol. i. p. 380. 

In another place he observes, '^that many of the books had 
been presented by Popes, Cardinals, and great persons, including 
most of the Fathers printed at Basil, before the Jesuits abus'd them 
with their expurgatory Indexes. I should not," he concludes, ^^ have 
persuaded the Duke to part with these, had I not seen how neg- 
ligent he was of them, suffering the priests and everybody to cairy 
away and dispose of what they pleas'd, so that abundance of rare 
things are irrecoverably gone." Diary ^ Vol. i. p. 471. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 197 

his embassy at Vienna ; and it consisted of a great 
number of printed books and many rare and valu- 
able manuscripts. Maitland, describing the Arundel 
portion of the Library of the Royal Society, informs 
us, that ^'this fine collection consists of 3287 printed 
books, in most languages and all faculties; and are 
chiefly the first editions of books, soon after the in- 
vention of printing. And the valuable and choice 
collection of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Turkish, and 
other rare manuscripts, consists of 544 volumes": 
which, together with the former, are thought to be of 
such value as cannot be paralleled for the smallness of 
their number." 

In the Collections qf John Bagford concerning 
the History qfPrintingy we have further evidence con- 
cerning this collection : we read, '^ Gresham College 
has a noble library, but it belongs not to the College, 
but to the Royal Society. These books» for the most 
part, were collected by the noble and learned anti- 
quary, the Earl of Arundel, when he was ambassador 
at the court of Vienna, and some were presented to 
him by the Duke of Saxony." According to Pepys, 
the Society valued the books at 1000^. 

At a Meeting of the Council, held on the 4th 
January, 1666 — 7, the printing of a circular announc- 
ing the change in the place of meeting was authorised : 
it runs thus: — 

'' These are to give notice, That the weekly Meet- 
ings of the Royal Society are appointed to be at 
Anmdel House on Wednesday next, being the 9th 

. ^ A portion of the Manuscripts in the Arundel Library was 
presented by the Duke to the College of Arms. A catalogue of 
these was made in 1829. 


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198 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

January, and thenceforward on the usual day and 

Accordingly, on the 9th January, the Society met 
for the first time at Arundel House**, when, to quote 
the Journal-book, " the President took notice of the 
great favour which Mr. Henry Howard had express'd 
to the Society, not only in accommodating them with 
convenient rooms for their Meetings, but also in pre- 
senting them with the Library of the said House**." 

The Meetings were continued during this year at 
Arundel House. On the 30th May the Society were 
honoured by a visit from the Duchess of Newcastle, 
who had, according to the statement of Lord Berkeley, 
expressed a great desire to witness some experiments. 
The ceremonies, and subjects for her entertainment 
were referred to the Council, and arranged to be as 
follows: "Weighing the air; several experiments of 
mixing colours ; dissolving flesh with a certain liquor ; 
two cold liquors by mixture made hot ; and making 
of a body swim in the middle of the water." 

Pepys gives the following very interesting and 
amusing account of the visit of the Duchess. 

" After dinner walked to Arundell House, the way 

^ Council Minutes, Vol. i. p. 120. 

** Arundel House was situated to the West of Milford Lane, 
in the Strand : it was originally the Bishop of Bath's Palace. Its 
site is now marked by Arundel and Norfolk Street. 

^ Under the date of Jan. 9, 1667, Pepys writes; "To Arun- 
dell House^ when first the Royal Society meet by the &vour of 
Mr. Henry Howard, who was there. And here was a great Meet- 
ing of worthy noble persons : but my Lord Brouncker, who pre- 
tended to make a congratulatory speech upon their coming hither, 
and great thanks to Mr. Howard, did do it in the worst manner 
in the world." Diary, Vol. n. p. 4. 


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1665 — 70.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 199 

very dusty, where I find very much company in expecta- 
tion of the Duchesse of Newcastle, who had desired to 
be invited to the Society ; and was, after much debate 
pro and con, it seems many being against it ; and we do 
believe the town will be full of ballads of it. Anon 
comes the Duchesse with her women attending her; 
among others the Ferabosco, of whom so much talk is 
that her lady would bid her show her face and kill the 
gallants. She is indeed black, and hath good black 
little eyes, but otherwise but a very ordinary woman, I 
do thmk, but they say sings well. The Duchesse hath 
been a good, comely woman, but her dress so antick, and 
her deportment so ordinary, that I do not like her at 
aU, nor did I hear her say anything that was worth 
hearing, but that she was full of admiration, all admira- 
tion. Several fine experiments were shewn her of 
colours, loadstones, microscopes, and of liquors : among 
others of one that did, while she was there, tiu*n a piece 
of roasted mutton into pure blood, which was very rare'^ 
After they had shewn her many experiments, and she 
cried until she was full of admiration, she departed, 
being led out and in by several lords that were there*®." 

Evelyn also tells us, that he "went to London 
to wait on the Dutchess of Newcastle (who was a 
mighty'pretender to learning, poetrie and philosophic, 
and had in both published divers books,) to the Royal 
Society, whither she came in great pomp, and being 
receiv'd by our Lord President at the doore of our 
Meeting-room, the mace, &c. carried before him, had 
several experiments shewed to her*'/' 

^ Query: Experiment, or Meat? 

M Diaryy Vol. n. p. 60. 

3» Diary, Vol. i. p. 383. This visit of the Duchess will call to 



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200 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

It appears by the Journal-book, that the experi- 
ment of the transfusion of blood was tried frequently 
during this year upon various animals, as sheep, dogs, 
foxes, &c/^ In the month of July, an account was 
received from Paris of two experiments made at the 
Academy of Sciences, on a youth and an adult, whose 
veins were opened and injected with the blood of 
lambs. The experiment, according to the account, 
succeeded so well, that the Society became anxious to 
perform it upon an individual, and Sir George Ent 
suggested that it would be most advisable '^to try 
it upon some mad person in Bedlam." This proposal 
met with general approbation, and a Committee was 
forthwith appointed to communicate with Dr. Allen, 
the physician to the Hospital, and request him to fur- 
nish a lunatic for the experiment. 

It will not excite surprise that Dr. Allen declined 
acceding to this request: the Committee reported, 
" That Dr. Allen scrupled to try the experiment of 
transfusion upon any of the mad people in Bedlam." 
They were then ordered "to consider together how 
this experiment might be most conveniently and most 
safely tryed." 

In the interval Dr. King read a Paper to the 
Society, " On the Method of Transfusing Blood into 
Man," which was printed in the 28th Number of the 

A very remarkable event which occurred this year, 
seems to have had so much influence upon the Society 

idfiembrance that of Queen Christiiia to the French Academy, men- 
tioned by Pellisson, in his BUtory of that learned body. 

^ See a curious Paper ^' On Injections into Veins, and the Trans- 
fusion of Bloud," by Dr. Clarke, in the 35th Number of the Tram^ 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 201 

as to cause a suspension of the Meetings from the 
30th May to the 3rd October. This was the imprison- 
ment of Oldenburg in the Tower; a &ct entirely 
unnoticed by Birch, or Thomson, and of which there 
is no record whatever in the Council or Journal-books 
of the Society. 

He was arrested on suspicion of carrying on politi- 
cal correspondence with parties abroad, obnoxious to 
Charles II. and the Goyemment. 

By the kindness of Sir George Grey, Secretary 
of State, who permitted me to search the archives in 
the State Paper Office, I am enabled to produce a 
copy of the warrants for incarcerating the Society's 


"Warrant to seize the person of Henry Oldenburg 
for dangerous designes and practices, and to convey 
him to the Tower. 

« JTttfw 20, 1667. " By order, 

" Arlington." 

''Warrant to the Lieutenant of the Tower to take 
him into his custody and keep him close prisoner. 
" June 20, 1667*^ " By order, 


It is probable that Oldenburg was arrested imme- 
diately on the issue of the foregoing warrants. He 
was certainly in the Tower seven days after, for 
Pepys writes, under the date of June 28, 1667, "I 
was told yesterday that Mr. Oldenburg, our Secre- 
tary at Gresham College, was put into the Tower, 
for writing news to a virtuoso in France, with whom 

*^ Vol. X. Dimet. Papert^ 1667. 


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202 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

he constantly corresponds on philosophical matters^ 
which makes it very unsafe at this time to write, or 
almost do any thing*^" 

The suspicions of Government were doubtless 
excited by the voluminous correspondence carried on 
by Oldenburg with foreigners**; but it is not a little 
singular that the exercise of one of the privileges 
conceded in the Society's charter, viz. that of holding 
a correspondence on scientific subjects with all descrip* 
tions of foreigners {mm omniims, et omnimodis pere-- 
grinis et alienis) ^ould have led to the arrest and 
incarceration of the Secretary in the King's State 

It is clear that the authorities were soon satis- 
fied of Oldenburg's innocence, for, on the 26th 
August, 1667, a warrant was issued for his discharge. 
This document is also in the State Paper Office. It 
runs thus : 

^ Diary, Vol. m. p. 273. 

^ In a letter from Mr! Fairfax to Oldenburg, dated Sept. 28, 
1667, he congratulates the latter upon his freedom and escape 
'^from those mishaps arising from the frequencj of exchanges hj 
the pen." Archives : Royal Society. 

^ During the period that Oldenburg was engaged in the pub-> 
lication of the PhU. Trans*, he carried on a correspondence with 
above seventy individuals in various parts of the world. ^'I 
asked him," says Dr. Lister, in his Journey to Paris, ^'what 
method he used to answer so great a variety of subjects ; and such 
a quantity of letters as he must receive weekly; for I knew he 
never failed, because I had the honour of his correspondence for 
ten or twelve years ; he told me he made one letter answer another ; 
and that to be always fresh, he never read a letter before he had 
pen, ink, and paper, ready to answer it forthwith ; so that the mul- 
titude of his letters cloyed him not, or even lay upon his hands." 

p. 7a 


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1665 — 70.] THE KOYAL SOCIETY. 203 


''Discharge for Oldenburg, prisoner in the 


" Afiffust 26, 1667. " By order, 

'* Arlington." 

A few days after his discharge, Oldenburg went 
into the country, as appears by the following very 
interesting letter to his friend Boyle, which is pre- 
served in the archives of the Society. 

" London, Sept. 3, 1667. 
" Sir, 

" I was so stifled by the prison-air, that, as 
soon as I had my enlargement from the Tower, I widen'd 
it, and took it from London into the country, to fann 
myself for some days in the good air of Craford in Kent. 
Being now returned, and having recovered my stomack, 
which I had in a maimer quite lost, I intend, if God will, 
to fall to my old trade, if I have any support to follow 
it. My late misfortune, I feare, will much prejudice 
me ; many persons unacquainted with me, and hearing 
me to be a stranger, being apt to derive a suspicion 
upon me. Not a few came to the Tower, meerly to 
enquire after my crime and to see the warrant, in which 
when they found that it was for dangerous dessines and 
practices, they spread it over London, and made others 
have no good opinion of me. In carcere audacter gemper 
aliquid hcBret. Before I went into the country, I waited 
upon my Lord Arlington, kissing the rod. I hope I 
shall live fully to satisfy his Majesty and all honest 
Englishmen of my integrity, and of my reall zeal to 
spend the remainder of my life in doing faithfull service 
to the Nation to the very utmost of my abilities. I have 
learned during this comitment to know my reall friends. 


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204 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70, 

God Almighty blesse them, and enable me to convince 
you all of my gratitude I 

" Sir, I acknowledge and beg pardon for the impor- 
tunities I gave you at the beginning, assuring you that 
you cannot lay any commands on me I shall not chear- 
fully obey to the best of my power." 

The rest of the letter relates to scientific subjects, 
a proof that, even during adversity, science had a 
share in the vmter's thoughts. 

Among those who went to see the Secretary in 
durance in the Tower was Evelyn, who records in his 
Diary ^ under the date of the 8th August^ 1667, 
"Visited Mr. Oldenburg, now close prisoner in the 
Tower, being suspected of writing intelligence. I had 
an order from Lord Arlington, Secretary of State, 
which caused me to be admitted. The gentleman was 
Secretary to our Society, and I am confident will 
prove innocent." 

Oldenburg's name is entered as having attended 
a Meeting of the Council on the 3Uth September, and 
from this period until his decease, he appears to have 
devoted all his time and abilities to the Society. His 
extraordinary labours will be better appreciated, when 
it is remembered that up to this date he only received 
a gratuity of 40^., which was voted to him "for the 
great pains he hath taken on behalf of the Society f 
and it was not until June, 1669, that a salary of 40/. 
per annum was granted to him. 

On the 27th September, 1667, the Society took 
possession of Chelsea College ^^ which was in a most 

** The College was delivered up to the Society by Evelyn, 
who writes in his Diary ^ Sept. 24, 1667, " I had orders to deliver 
the possession of Chelsea College (used as my prison during the 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 205 

dilapidated condition ; but, as the grant of the build^^ 
ing and land had not passed the great seal, it was 
resolved, "that all repairs should be deferred until 
the Society obtained legal possession of the premises/' 
This appears to have been regarded as extremely 
doubtful ; and although Dr. Sprat speaks, in his his** 
tory, of the College as intended to serve for the So- 
ciety's meetings^ laboratory, repository, and library, 
yet the Council resolved, that subscriptions should be 
set on foot for the purpose of building a College, " as 
the most probable way of the Society's establishment." 
With this view the subjoined form of subscription 
was drawn up : 

" We whose names are underwritten being satisfied 
of the great usefuUness of the institution of the Boyal 
Society, and how requisite it is for attaining the ends 
designed thereby, to build a College for their Meetings, 
and to establish some revenue for discharging the ex- 
penses .necessary for tryal of experiments, do heartily 
recommend it to the bounty of all generous and well- 
disposed persons for their assistance to a worke of such 
public usefullnesse. And we do each of us for ourselves, 
hereby promise to contribute to those good ends, the 
respective sums subscribed by each of us at four distinct 
quarterly payments, to be made to such persons as shall 
be authorized under the seal of the Royal Society for 
the receipt thereof; the first payment to begin at ** 

A Committee was appointed, consisting of the 
President, the Bishop of Salisbury, Henry Howard, Mr. 
Boyle, Sir R. Moray, Sir John Lowther, Dr. Wilkins, 
Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Hoskyns, and Mr. 

war with Holland, for such as were sent from the Fleete to 
London) to our Society, as a gift of His Majesty, our Founder." 


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206 HISTORY OP [1665 — 70. 

Oldenburg; who were requested to solicit contribu- 
tions for building the proposed College. The Com- 
mittee, headed by the President, made great exertions 
to obtain donations; it is recorded even that they 
went expressly to Westminster Hall, for the purpose 
of asking those Members of Parliament who were 
Fellows of the Society, for their contributions. 

Boyle was in Oxford at this period, where he 
principally resided until 1668, when he removed to 
London. All matters of importance relating to the 
Society were conmiunicated to him by Oldenburg, 
who, in a letter written on this occasion, and printed 
in Boyle's Works, says, 

*' I cannot conclude this, without acquainting you of 
the design of the Society's Council, whereof you are a 
member, of building a college, as one of the most 
probable means of their establishment. They did on 
Saturday last consider of it in a full Council, when H. 
Howard of Norfolk was also present (who intends to 
continue his nobleness, either by contributing to this 
work a good sum of money, or by giving us ground about 
Arundel House to build upon), and proceeded so far as 
to view a draught and to select out of the Society's list 
such persons as they thought both willing and able for 
such contributions ; and to cany it on the more effectuaUy, 
they appointed a Committee of Beggars (as they were 
pleased to term it merrily) or solicitors, to speak to 
such as were called out for that piu*pose, and to recom- 
mend this work to their liberality. Oxur present Bishop 
of Salisbury, Mr. Howard, Dr. Wilkins and myself, are 
the principal beggars ; we want Sir R. Moray exceedingly 
in this employment. I was particularly desired to ac- 
quaint you with this intention, and also Sir B. Moray, to 
engage him to beg in Scotland among the noblemen 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 207 

there, that are of the Society, on our behalf. I believe, 
Sir, you will not be displeased, if I am open and particu- 
lar to you in this business, which I think myself obliged 
to be, as tending to your better direction and informa- 
tion. They guess there will be four classes of contribu- 
tions ; some of 1001., some of 601. or 50/., some of 40/., 
some of 20/. Our President hath already declared for 
100/., and I think the Bishop of Salisbury for the like 
sum. Dr. Wilkins for 60/., Mr. Hayes for 40/., Sir P. 
Carteret for 60/., and, if there be occasion, for more. 

^*We begin with the Council, and proceed to the 
Society ; that, when we go on to beg of others not of 
our body, they may not object, we would load others 
and draw our own ne<^ out of the yoke. The Council, 
when they ran over the list of the Society, thought you, 
Sir, the fittest person to bespeak my Lord Clifford's 
generosity in this matter ; thinking it superfluous to in- 
yite yourself otherwise than by a bare intimation. I am 
confident you take in good part both the Council's and 
my freedom in this discourse, which stops my pen, my 
saying more by way of excuse of it**." 

Amongst the numerous manuscript letters of Old- 
enburg in the archives of the Royal Society, is one to 
Boyle, written at a later period, by which it appears 
that the latter was not very favourably disposed 
towards the proposed College, although he subse- 
quently, as will be seen, contributed towards it. Olden-* 
burg says, 

" I find, by yow last return, I am guilty of an un- 
seasonable importunity expressed in my former, which 
yet, since I am not wont to be so in my own particular 

^ VoL V. p. 381. 


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208 HISTORY OF [1665—70. 

concerns, I am apt to believe I shall the more easily ob* 
tain your pardon for, the more it proceeded from a zeal 
to further a publick and useful work, as the building a 
College for the Royal Society is conceived to be by the 
Council, as being that which will in aU likelihood esta- 
blish our Institution and fix us (who are now looked upon 
but as wanderers and using precariously the lodgings 
of other men), in a certain place where we may meet, 
prepare and make our experiments and observations, 
lodge our curators and operators, have our laboratory, 
observatory, and operatory, alltogether. Tis a maxim I 
learned in my logick when a boy, Qui amat Jinemy anuU 
ei media ad finem. And I confess I am as averse from, 
and as much a bungler in, begging as any man ; but I 
can deny myself, and go against the stream of my incli- 
nations, when the prosecution of honour and publick 
usefulness is in the case, as here it is, and therefore am 
not ashamed to beg, when it is a good means to accom- 
modate and promote the good ends of the Society's Insti- 
tution. I think, since I have endeavoured to serve them 
to the utmost of my power these six years gratis, and 
am a beggar to boot as to my private fortune, I may 
extend my endeavours so much further as to go a 
begging for the Society^s establishment^ especially in 
so good company as our President, Mr. Henry Howard, 
Sir Eobert Moray, and some others, have a mind to be.*** 

Another letter from Oldenburg to Boyle, dated 
London, Jan. 18, 1667-8, gives us further isibrmation 
respecting the proposed College. 

"I am almost persuaded that upon a mature con- 
sideration of the importance of building a College to 
establish the Society, you will not at all hesitate in 
giving your approbation and concurrence thereto. We 


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1663 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 209 

had on Saturday last, at a Meeting of the Council, a 
draught of the structure before us, which was scanned 
sufficiently ; Mr. Howard being there also, and giving 
no small proof of his understanding and skiU in that 
art, as well as of his frankness and generosity in giving, 
the foundation and forwarding the execution of the 
work. I think we shall at our next Council, which is 
summoned to meet on Thursday next in the evening, 
begin to make subscriptions in such a form as may be 
obligatory in law, and yet not severe in the expression. 
My Lord Anglesey, having the thing occasionally men- 
tioned to him by me, shewed so much inclination to it, 
that he is like to be received into the Society, and to 
be both a contributor and a solicitor for this noblework. 
Sir, my opinion is, since you are pleased to demand it, 
that in case you think not yet jfit to come to London, 
you may declare in a note to me the sum you intend to 
cast in, directing me to signify it to the Council, and 
giving order where the Society's treasurer shall receive 
it« Concerning the provision made by the Council to 
secure men's philosophical properties, they have ordered 
that, if any thing of that nature be brought in, and 
desired to be lodged with the Society — in case the 
author be not of their body — they should be obliged 
to shew it first to the President, (for fear of lodging 
unknownly ballads and bufiboneries in these scoffing 
times), and that then it should be sealed up, both by 
the smaller seal of the Society, and the seal of the pro- 
poser : but if the authors were of the Society, that then 
they should not be obliged to shew it first to the Presi- 
dent, but only to declare the general head of the matter 
to be laid up, and that then it should be sealed up as 
mentioned before," 

At the request of the Council, Lord Brouncker 

VOL. I. p 


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210 HISTORY OF [1665 — ^70, 

addressed the following letter to Sir Robert Moray, 
one pf the Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury 
in S5otland. 

"The Council of the Royal Society having lately 
taken into serious consideration what might be the most 
probable means to establish the Society, and its design 
of improving useful knowledge to perpetuity, and hav- 
ing found, upon mature deliberation, that one of the 
ways most likely to effect the same may be the erecting 
of a College, fit to meet and to make their observations 
and experiments in; they have, accordingly, resolved 
to endeavour to engage as many of the members of the 
Society, and of others also, not of their body, as are 
able and willing to promote so noble and useful a work. 
In pursuance of which they have ah*eady begun to solicit 
divers of the Society, and found] no ill success in this 
undertaking ; in which they are more especially encou- 
raged by the signal nobleness and bounty of the Hon. 
Henry Howard, of Norfolk, most generously bestowing 
on the Society a piece of ground in Arundel House, 
sufficient to build the College on; the raising of which 
they intend, God willing, to begin with this approaching 
Spring, and, if the design be seconded by cheerful con- 
tributions, to finish by Michaelmas next. 

" And being persuaded, that those of the nobility in 
Scotland, whose names are here enrolled in the list 
of the Society, are, with many others, satisfied of the 
usefuUness of this Institution, and of the necessity of 
making such an establishment as this; they thought fit 
to give you, of whose zeal for its prosperity they are 
well assured, notice of this their intention, that so you 
may be invited, as you have opportunity, to insinuate 
this undertaking to those of your noble countrymen as 
are of the Society, and to bespeak the concurrence 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 211 

of. their generosity in contributing with all convenient 
speed what they may, to further so good an establish- 
ment : which being effectually done, as it cannot but 
redound to the immortal fame of the contributors, so 
it will certainly add to the reputation you have already 
so much gained and deserved of this Society.^ 

There is a book in the archives of the Society 
entitled, Contributions towards Building the College, 
where the names of the Fellows of the Society are 
entered, with the various sums subscribed by each. 
These amount to 1075/., contributed by 24 Fellows 
out of 207, a small proportion, showing that the pro- 
position of the Council was not responded to very 
warmly. Indeed, we have evidence of this from Pepys, 
who says in his Diary y under the date of the 8th of 
April, 1668, "With Lord Brouncker to the Royall 
Society, when they had just done ; but I was forced to 
subscribe' to the building of a College, and did give 
40/. ; and several others did subscribe, some greater 
and some lesse sums ; but several I saw hang off; and 
I doubt it will spoil the Society, for it breeds faction 
and ill-will, and becomes burdensome to some that 
cannot, or would not do it." 

Lord Brouncker contributed 100/., Boyle 50/., and 
Evelyn, in addition to a similar sum, is recorded to 
have given 50,000 bricks. Mr. Henry Howard granted 
the Society a piece of ground in Arundel Gardens, 
100 ft. long, by 40 ft. deep, for the proposed College, 
and he, as well as Hooke and Wren, drew designs for 
the building. 

The latter communicated his plan in writing. The 
document is preserved in the archives of the Society. 
It is dated Oxford, June 7, 1668, and addressed to 
Oldenburg : — 



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212 HISTORY OF [l665 — 70. 

"When I waited upon his Honour, Henry Howard .of 
Norfolk, he took delight to shew me some designs he 
had thought of himself for your building, and com^ 
manded me to trace out to him what I had considered, 
the same in effect I shewed you at London. But 
this, at first appearance, seemed to him too chargeable 
a design, but afterwards he acquiesced in the reasons I 
gave him ; and having taken the sketch with him, and 
delivered your letter with his own hand, he enjoyned me 
to give you an account of it. 

*' It contains in the foundations, first, a cellar and a 
fair laboratory ; then a little shop or two, for forges 
and hammer-works, with a kitchen and little larder. In 
the first story it contains a vestibule, or passage-hall^ 
leading through from both streets; a fair room for a 
library and repository, which may well be one room, 
placing the books after the modern way in glass presses; 
or, if you will divide the room with pillars,, it will the 
better support the floor of the great room above it, and 
so place the presses for rarities in the other. Upon 
the same floor is a parlour for the housekeeper, and 
from the vestibule the great stairs lead you up to the 
ante-chamber of the great room, and not higher. 

"The great. room for the meeting is 40 feet long, 
and two stories high, divided from the ante-chamber by 
a skreen between columns, so that the whole length, in 
case of an entertainment, may be 66 feet. Upon the 
same floor is the Council-room, and a little closet for 
the Secretary. 

" In the third story are two chambers with closets, 
for the Curators, and back stairs by them, which lead 
from the bottom to the top ; one of the chambers being 
over the ante-room, looking down into the great room, 
very useful in case of solemnities. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 213 

'* The fourth story is the timbers of the roof; which 
being 30 feet wide, and to be leaded, cannot be firm 
without bracing it by partitions to the floor below. 
These partitions are so ordered, as to leave you a little 
passage-gallery the whole length of the building, for 
trial of all glasses and other experiments that require 
length. On one side of the gallery are little shops all 
along for operators ; on the other side are little cham* 
bers for operators and servants. The platform of lead 
is for traversing the tubes and instruments, and many 
experiments. In the middle rises a cupola for observa- 
tions, and may be fitted, likewise, for an anatomy the- 
atre ; and the floors may be so ordered, that from the 
top into the cellar may be made all experiments for 

'* As for the charge of this fabric, I confess it is my 

opinion, that a fair building may easier be carried on 

by contribution, with time, than a sordid one. And, if 

I might advise, I could wish the foundations were laid 

of the whole, but then you need not build more than 

half at present ; and this may be done for 2000/., and 

will contain the necessary rooms, and so you will leave 

yourselves an opportunity of inlarging hereafter upon 

the same model. If you think to have a model made, I 

will willingly take care to have it done. I have so 

folded the papers, as to shew you what part I would 

have at present built ; together with an extempore 

staircase of deal boards and laths. The cupola may be 

left till the finishing. 


"I am your humble Servant, 

"Chr. Wrbn." 

Although it had been originally resolved that 
when the subscription amounted to 1000/., the College 


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should be commenced, yet some obstacles arose re- 
lating to the conveyance of the land, for on the 10th 
of August, 1668, it is recorded in the Minutes of 
Council, that " the building of the College should be 
deferred till Spring; and, in the mean time, good 
materials provided." 

It may be as well to state here, that the College 
was never built, in consequence of legal difficulties, 
and want of funds. These might, however, have 
been surmounted ; but the immediate necessity for 
so doing was removed by the grant of Chelsea Col- 
lege, which was conveyed to the Society by Royal 
Patent, dated April 8, 1669. 

This document contains certain additional privi- 
leges, the most important of which is, that the Presi- 
dent, Council, and Fellows, may hold their Assemblies 
anywhere within the kingdom of England. 

A copy of the Patent will be found in the Appen- 


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Committee conceniing Chelaea College— Proposition from Evelyn 
and a Nobleman respecting it — Resolution to let it — Cosmo 
III. Grand Duke of Tuscany visits the Society — Experiment 
of Transfusing the Blood of a Sheep into a Man— Popular 
Belief respecting Transfusion — Queen orders Thermometer to 
be made for her l)y the Society — Natural History Collections 
made by order of the Society — ^Letters of Recommendation 
given by the Council — ^Flamsteed's first Communication to the 
Society — Communications from Malpighi — Letter from New- 
ton — Enemies of the Sficiety — Glanvill's Pita Ultra — Poverty 
of the Society — Boyle lends Philosophical Apparatus— Wager 
of Charles II. — Newton proposed as Candidate by the Bishop 
of Salisbury — His Election — Sends his Reflecting Telescope to 
the Society — Supposed by some parties abroad to be a Maker 
of Telescopes — ^His Discoveries respecting Light — His gratitude 
to the Society — Controversies — Bishop Wilkins leaves a Legacy 
to the Society — The Society invited to return to Gresham 
College— Leu wenhoeck's Microscopical Communications — Pre- 
sents his Microscopes to the Society — Society give his daughter 
a silver bowl — Pecuniary Difficulties — Means taken to collect 
Arrears — Obligation to furnish Scientific Communications and 
Experiments — Newton exempted from paying his Subscription 
— Erection of Greenwich Observatory — Flamsteed appointed 
Astronomer Royal — Society lend their Instruments to the 
Observatory — Peter the Great visits the Observatory — ^Astro- 
nomical Science neglected by €rovemment — ^Valuable Commu- 
nications from Travellers — Pains taken by the Society to pro- 
cure information — Curious Account of Asbestos — Death of 
Oldenburg — Biographical Notice of him — Lord Brouncker 
resigns the Presidency. 


THE grant of Chelsea College, and the lands apper- 
taining to it, amounting to about thirty acres, 
was even in those days a munificent endowment ; but, 
unfortunately for the Society, it presented a fairer 


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216 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

appearance engrossed on a broad sheet of parchment, 
than warranted by the result ; for various parties im- 
mediately claimed portions of the estate, which the 
Society, taking the Patent for their guide, conceived 
to be lawfully their property. 

Within a month after the grant, a Committee con- 
sisting of Lord Brouncker, Mr. Charles Howard, Mr. 
Aerskine, Sir Robert Moray, Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Hen- 
shaw, and Mr. Hoskyns, was appointed '' to consider 
of his Majesty's grant of Chelsea College, and whut 
may belong to it^ ; and also to qpnfer with Mr. Cheney 
about those acres which he held belonging to the 
College, and to commute parcels of land with the 
same, in case he should surrender his interest upon 
equitable terms to the Royal Society: and that the 
said Committee do meet at Lord Brereton's lodgings 
in Channel Row, beginning to do so on the Saturday 
following, at five in the evening ; and that they make 
a report to the Council." 

The Committee met frequently, but were unable 
for several months to come to any decision, in the 
absence of documents essential to the inquiry. Mean- 
while, Evelyn proposed ** that the College should be 
let as a prison-house during the war, he hoping to 
get 100/. per annum for it, besides some necessary 
repairs of the house." 

The Council-minutes add, " It was ordered here- 
upon that the President, Treasurer, and Secretary 
that officiateth, should have power to agree, in the 
name of the Council, with Mr. Evelyn about the mat- 

^ Sir Joseph Sheldon assured Lord Brouncker that fifty acres 
of land adjoining the College belonged to the Society. — Council 


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1665—70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 217. 

ter proposed, and conclude with him, if the above- 
mentioned hundred pounds per annum, together with 
good repairs, could be obtained." 

About the same time Sir Robert Moray commu- 
nicated a proposition from a noble Member of the 
Society, who was willing to undertake the manage- 
ment of the College and lands, '*and would plant 
the ground with all sorts of choice vegetables, exotick, 
and domestick, and in repairing the house, all upon 
his own charges, the Society always remaining pro- 
prietors and masters thereof, with a full power of 
ordering and directing what particulars they would 
have observed and done in the managing of this affair, 
the proposer only expecting to be perpetual steward 
of that place." This proposition, it is added, "was 
received with acclamations; only Sir Robert Moray 
was desired that he would employ his interest with 
the proposer, to have it put in writing for the preven- 
tion of mistakes." 

Neither of these proposals was carried into effect ; 
and the Committee were therefore earnestly requested 
to report on the best measures to be taken for ren- 
dering the College available to the Society. They 
eventually reported in favour of letting the building, 
and it was accordingly resolved, "that the influential 
Fellows of the Society be requested to use their 
interest to find a tenant." But the property was in 
so unsettled a state, that although great exertions were 
made to procure a tenant, and money expended in 
repairing the College, they met with no success, and 
the estate remained on the hands of the Society until 
finally disposed of to the Crown. 

This transaction will be duly noticed in the proper 


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218 HISTOEY OF [i665 — 70, 

In 1669, Cosmo III., Grand Duke of Tuscany, 
visited England, accompanied by Count Lorenzo 
Magalatti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del 
Cimeato, and one of the most learned and eminent 
characters of the court of Ferdinand II. He wrote 
the Grand Duke's Travels^ an English translation of 
which was published in 1821. The Duke visited the 
Royal Society on the 25th April. The following is 
the account of the visit, given by the Duke's chro- 
nicler : — 

" He afterwards went, in his carriage, with his usual 
retinue, to Arundel House, where the Royal Society 
meets every Thiu-sday, after dinner, to take cognizance 
of matters of natural philosophy, and for the study and 
examination of chemical, mechanical, and mathematical 

subjects At their Meetings no precedence or dis* 

tinction of place is observed, except by the President 
and Secretary ; the first is in the middle of the table, 
and the latter at the head of it on his left hand, the 
other Academicians taking their seats indifferently on 
benches of wood with backs to them, arranged in two 
rows ; and if any one enters imexpectedly after the 
Meeting has begun, every one remains seated, nor is his 
salutation returned, except by the President alone, who 
acknowledges it by an inclination of the head, that he 
may not interrupt the person who is speaking on the 
subject or experiment proposed by the Secretary. They 
observe the ceremony of speaking to the President 
uncovered, waiting from him for permission to be co- 
vered, and explaining their sentiments in few words, 
relative to the subject under discussion ; and, to avoid 
confusion and disorder, one does not begin before the 
other has ended his speech ; neither are opposite opi- 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 219 

nions maintained with obstinacy, but with temper ; the 
language of civility and moderation being always adopted 
amongst them : which renders them so much the more 
praiseworthy, as they are a society composed of persons 
of different nations. It has for its coat of arms a field 
of silver, denoting a blank tablet, enlivened with the 
motto NulUus in verba, to shew that they do not suffer 
themselves to be induced by passion and prejudice to 
follow any particular opinions. 

" The cabinet, which is under the care of Dr. Hooke, 
a man of genius, and of much esteem in experimental 
matters, was founded by Daniel Colwal, now Treasurer 
of the Academy, and is full of the greatest rarities, 
brought from the most distant parts; such as quadru- 
peds, birds, fishes, serpents, insects, shells, feathers, 
seeds, minerals, and many petrifactions, mummies, and 
gums ; and every day, in order to enrich it still more, 
the Academicians contribute every thing of value which 
comes into their hands ; so that in time it will be the 
most beautiful, the largest, and the most curious, in 
respect to natural productions, that is any where to be 
found. Amongst these curiosities, the most remarkable 
are : an ostrich, whose young were always bom alive* ; 
an herb which grew in the stomach of a thrush ; and 
the skin of a moor, tanned, with the beard and hair 
white: but more worthy of observation than all the 
rest, is a clock, whose movements are derived from the 
vicinity of a loadstone, and it is so adjusted as to dis- 
cover the distance of countries at sea by the longi- 

^ This truly was a curiosity. It is to" be feared the Grand 
Duke s historian was not a profound zoologist. 

' The analogy between the above clock and the electrical clock 
of the present day, is not a little remarkable. During 1669, the 



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220 HISTORY OF [1665—70. 

The Grand Duke*s physician, who was frequently 
present at the ordinary meetings, laid before the 
Society a number of philosophical and medical que- 
ries, which had been entrusted to him by some philo- 
sophers at Florence, for the purpose of obtaining the 
opinion and answers of the Society thereon. 

Among the most remarkable experiments pro- 
secuted at this period, was that of transfusing the 
blood of a sheep into a man, which was successfully 
performed for the .first time in England, in the month 
of November, 1667. The subject of the experiment 
was a poor student, named Arthur Coga, who, hearing 
that the Society were very desirous to try the experi- 
ment of transfiision upon a man, and being in want 
of money, oflered himself for a guinea, which was 
immediately accepted on the part of the Society*. 
The operation was performed by Drs. Lower and 
King at Arundel House, on the 23rd Nov., 1667, in 
the presence of several spectators, among whom were 
Mr. Henry Howard, the Bishop of Salisbury, and 
some members of Parliament. Oldenburg, in a let- 
ter to Boyle, giving an account of the experiment, 

Journal-book contains many allosions to " Hooke's magnetic watch 
going slower or faster, according to the greater or less distance of 
the loadstone, and so moving regularly in any posture." On the 
occasion of the visit of illustrious strangers, this clock and Hooke's 
magnetic watches were ajways exhibited as great curiosities. 

^ Oldenburg, in a letter to Boyle, dated London, Nov. 25, 
1667, observes, that Coga was looked upon as ''a very freakish 
and extravagant man; that he had studied at Cambridge, and 
was said to be a bachelor of divinity, and an indigent person." 
And Dr. King in a letter to Boyle, dated the same day, remarks 
" that Coga was thirty-two years of age, that he spoke Latin well, 
but that his brain was tometimet a little too warm.'* 


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J 665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 221 

observes, " Dr. King performed the chief part of it 
with great dexterity, and so much ease to the pa- 
tient, that he made not the least complaint, nor so 
much as any grimace during the whole time of the 
operation ; that he found himself very well upon it, 
his pulse and appetite being better than before, his 
sleep good, his body as soluble as usual, it being 
observed,, that the same day he had three or four 
stools, as he used to have before." 

Dr. King stated, that after the operation ''the 
patient was well and merry, and drank a glass or two 
of canary, and took a pipe of tobacco, in the presence 
of forty or more persons ; he then went home, and 
continued well all day, his pulse being stronger and 
fuller than before, and he very sober and quiet, more 
than before, as the people of the house said, who 
thought that he had only been let blood. In the 
night he slept well, but sweat two or three hours, 
and next day was very well, and so remained, and 
was very willing to have the experiment repeated, 
his arm being, he said, well. A person asking him 
why he had not the blood of some other creature 
instead of that of a sheep transfused into him, he 
answered, Sanguis ovis symholicam quandam fdcvl- 
tatem habet cum sanguine Christie quia Christum est 
Agnus Dei^T 

* Pepys says in his Diary, "Nov. 21, 1667. With Creed to 
a Tavern, where Dean Wilkins and others, and good discourse; 
among the rest of a man that is a little frantic (that hath been a 
kmd of minister ; Dr. Wilkins saying, that he hath read for him 
in his church), that is poor, and a debauched man, that the College 
have hired for 20#. to have some of the blood of a sheep let into 
his body, and it is to be done on Saturday next. They purpose to 
let in about 12 ounces." Pepys subsequently writes : "Nov. 30. I 



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222 HISTORY OF [166^ — 70, 

The experiment was repeated on the 12th Decern* 
her following, when eight ounces of blood were taken 
from Coga, and about fourtQen ounces of sheep's 
blood injected; the operation was performed at a 
public Meeting of the Society, An account of it is 
recorded in the third volume of the Register-book, 
by which it appears to have succeeded*. 

The most sanguine anticipations appear to have 
been indulged by uninquiring minds, and the new 
process was almost expected to realize the alchemical 
reveries of an elixir of life and immortality. Dr. 
Teme, physician to one of the London hospitals, 
expressed his willingness to try the experiment of 
transfusion upon morbid persons, but there is no 
record of any of his patients undergoing the opera- 
tion. About this time, however, some papers were 
received from Dantzic, giving an account of trials 
made of injecting liquors into human veins; in two 
cases the individuals received great benefit, but a 
third person died'. In 1668, a lunatic in Paris, on 

was pleased to see the person who had his blood taken out. He 
speaks well, and did this day give the Society a relation thereof 
in Latin, saying, that he finds himself much better since, and a 
new man. He is the first sound man that ever had it tried on 
him in England, and but one that we hear of in France." Vol. n. 
p. 160. 

^ Sir P. Skippon, in a letter to Ray, alluding to this experi- 
ment, says^ '' The effects of the transfusion are not seen, the coffee- 
houses having endeavoured to debauch the fellow, and so conse* 
quently discredit the Royal Society, and make the experiment ridi- 
culous." Phil. Let., p. 28. 

7 tn a letter to Boyle, Oldenburg relates that a physician who 
was at the meeting when the above papers were read, ^^ was so 
precipitate as to say, that he would engage that that one, viz. 
vnth the ill success, was the only true; but the other two both false. 


zed by Google 

1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 223 

whom the experiment of transfusion had been tried 
without success, was again operated upon, but with 
fatal results, as explained in the annexed letter from 
M. Justel to Oldenburg. 

" Paris, 3 FSvr. 1668. 
" 11 faut que je vous dise qu^on sfoit que M, Denis et 
le Sieur Emerez voulant remedier i lafolie du phrhiitiqtie, 
sur lequel ils avaient fait la transfusion^ Font ripStSe, et 
lui ont ouvert la jugvlaire et saigni an pied ; mais il est 
mort entre leur bra^s. Sans le credit de M. de Montmor 
ils auraient H6 en peine^ en ayant usS un peu hardiment\ 
Cette aventure decriera la transjusion, et on n'osera plus 
la fairs sur les hommes^J* 

These failures turned the current of public opi- 
nion, and led to the immediate abolition of the pro- 
cess, which was not practised again by the Society. 

Scientific labours in the branches of physics and 
natural history, were prosecuted at this period with 
great diligence ; the indefatigable Hooke is recorded 
in the Journal-books as having produced new experi- 
ments and inventions at almost every Meeting. The 

'*I could not," adds Oldenburg, ^'but take him afterwards aside, 
and represent to him how he would resent it, if he should commu- 
nicate upon his own knowledge an unusual experiment to the 
curious at Dantzic, and they in public brand it with the mark of 
fiilsehood; that such expressions, in so public a place and in so 
mixed an assembly, would certainly prove very destructive to all 
philosophical commerce, if the curious abroad should be once in- 
formed how their symbolas were received at the Royal Society." 
Archives : Royal Society. 

^ They were tried for manslaughter, but acquitted. 

^ Two men died at Rome after undergoing the operation of 
transfusion. The Pope immediately issued an edict forbidding the 
practice. Merclin, de Transfui* Sang^ p. 25. 


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224 HISTORY OF [1665 — 70. 

mechanical science of the Society was even recognized 
at Court, for we find the Queen, Catharine of Bra- 
ganza, requesting that a thermometer might be made 
for her, which was done by Hooke. 

In Oct. 1669, Thomas Willisel, who had been 
engaged by the Society to collect zoological and botani- 
cal specimens in England and Scotland, returned to 
London with a large collection of "rare Scottish 
birds and fishes," and dried plants, which were laid 
before the Society, and preserved in their repository ^^ 
Evelyn having been at the Meeting of the Society 
when the specimens were shewn, says in his Diary : 
*' Our English itinerant presented an account of his 
autumnal peregrination about England, for which 
we hired him, bringing dried fowls, fish, plants, ani- 
mals, &c."" 

It was not an uncommon circumstance for the 
Council to grant to intelligent persons, whether Fel- 
lows of the Society or not, what are styled '* Letters 
recommendatory." These were written in Latin, and 
bore the great Seal of the Society. 

Their object was to request that all persons in 
authority abroad would kindly receive the bearer. 

^® Mr. Willisers commission was as follows: "These are to 
certify all whom it may oonoeme, that the bearer hereof, Thomas 
Willisel, is employed by the President, Council, and Fellows of 
the Royal Society of London for improving natural knowledge, 
to go into several parts of His Majesty's dominions for purposes 
suitable to their Institution, accordmg to authority unto them on 
this behalf given by his sacred Majesty that now is. And they 
earnestly recommend him to all generous and ingenuous spirits, 
desiring that as occasion shall require, they will assist him in pro- 
moting a work so generally beneficial to all mankind." To this 
the Seal of the Society was appended. 

^1 Vol. I. p. 402. 


zed by Google 

1665 — 70.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 226 

who was desirous of cultivating science", and show 
him any attention in their power, particularly with 
reference to the nature of his scientific pursuits. 

In November 1669, Flamsteed's name first appears 
in the Journal-books, as a contributor. He commu- 
nicated a Paper On Eclipses in 1670; and inscribed 
the communication "To the Right Honourable Wil- 
liam, Lord Brouncker, President of the illustrious 
Royal Society ; also to the Right Worshipful, worthy, 
and truly ingenious Henry Oldenburg, Esq., Christo- 
pher Wren, M. D., and all other Astronomical Fel- 
lows of the said Society : J. F. humbly presents this 
epistle." At the close of it he writes : " Excuse, I 
pray you, this juvenile heat for the concerns of sci- 
ence, and want of better language firom one who, from 
the sixteenth year of his age to this instant, hath 
only served one bare apprenticeship inUhese arts, 
under the discouragement of friends, the want of 
health, and all other instructors except his better 
genius. I crave the liberty to conceal my name, not 
to suppress it. I have composed the letters of it in 
Latin, in this sentence. In Mathesi a sdefundes. If 
I may understand that you accept of these, or think 
them worthy your notice, you shall certainly hear 
more from your*s, J. F.'* Oldenburg's answer is too 

interesting to be omitted. 

''JanK 14,1669—70. 

" Thouoh you did what you could to hide 
your name from us, yet your ingenious and useful labors 
for the advancement of Astronomy, addressed to the 
noble President of the Royal Society, and some others 

^ These documenis were often of service in adding to the 
SocietT's stores of information. 

VOL. I. Q 


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226 HISTORY OF [1665 — ^70. 

of that illustrious body, did soon discover you to ua 
upon our solicitous enquiries after their worthy author. 
The said Society, having been made acquainted with 
your endeavours and performances too, and duly con- 
sidered the importance and usefulness of these studies 
and astronomical predictions of yours, tending so much 
to state the motions of celestial bodies, especially that 
of the moon, have given me order to present you with 
their hearty thanks, both for your singular respect to 
them, and to congratulate you on the progress you 
have made in the excellent science of Astronomy ; and 
withal to assure you, that you can do them no greater 
kindness than to continue this industry from year to 
year, and that, in compliance with your design, they 
will take what care they can to commit the province of 
observing those phenomena you have noted, to some of 
their most industrious and most skUful members. And, 
tq the end that the better and ampler notice may be 
given of what you have so ingeniously and worthily 
begun to perform in this matter, it is intended that the. 
most necessary part of your Papers shall be forthwith 
made public by the press ; and that, perhaps, in the 
Philosophical Tranmctiam for this month ; reserving the 
rest, that cannot be conveniently concluded in the nar- 
row bounds of those tracts, (which is to contain some 
variety of subjects)/ unto another opportunity. * Which 
when done, I shall not fail (God willing) to see a copy 
of that book conveyed to you : whom I shall herewith 
desire to let me know the readiest and easiest way of 
sending things of this nature to you. 

" What occasion you may have to employ my ser- 
vice in here, you need no more than signify it by a 
letter to me, sent by the ordinary post, addressing to 
me at my house in the middle of the Pal-mal, in St. 


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1665 — 70.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 227 

James' Fields, Westminster. Meantime, you must look 
upon me as the meanest of the Fellows of this Society, 
though I am, with all readiness and sincerity. Sir, 
Your very affectionate fiiend, and real servant, 

"H. Oldenburg"." 

Flamsteed writes, "in June, 1670, my father, 
taking notice of my correspondence with them whom 
I had never seen, would needs have me take a jour- 
ney up to London ^\ that I might become personally 
acquainted with the Fellows of the Society. I em- 
braced the offer gladly, and there became first ac- 
quainted with Sir Jonas Moore, who presented me 
with Mr. Towneley's micrometer, and undertook to 
furnish me with telescope-glasses at moderate rates." 

From this period, Flamsteed's name is of frequent 
occurrence in the Journal, and other books of the 
Society ; and we shall often find him coming before 
connexion with its history. 

It is deserving of record, that the celebrated Mar- 
cellus Malpighi, whilst holding the Professorship of 
Medicine at Messina", sent his work, Dissertatio 
Epistolica de Bombyce, to the Society, with a request 
that it might be published under their auspices. This 
was in 1669, and in the same year the Council-minutes 
record, "that the History of the Silke Worme, by 
Signer Malpighi, dedicated to the Royal Society, be 
printed forthwith by the printers of the same." 

The work was published in 1669, with the fol- 
lowing licence : 

^3 Letter-book, Royal Society. 

^* He was living at Derby. 
' ^« He removed to Messina in 1666. See his Opera Posthumai 
edited by Petrus Regus. 



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228 HISTORY OF [1665—70; 

*' 7Vaet€tHs cut titulus Marcello Malpighi Dia^ertatio 

JSpistolica de Bombyce, Societatis BegioB dicata^ imprimatur 

d Johcmne Martyn et Jcuiobo Allestry dicUB Societatis Ty- 


**Brouncker, P.RS." 

Malpighi addressed several of his best works to 
the Society. He had been elected a Member in 1668, 
and was afterwards a constant correspondent. There 
are several letters in the archives from learned 
foreigners, requesting the Society to allow their works 
to be published under their auspices, or dedicated to 
them^*. In some instances the request was preferred 
through the medium of a Fellow, as exemplified by 
the subjoined letter, from Newton to Hooke, dated 
* Trinity College, Cambridge, Dec. 3, 1670; 

"One Dominico Gasparini, an Italian Doctor of 
Fhysick, in the city of Lucca, has composed a Treatise 
of the method of administering the * Cortex Peruviana,' 
in Fevers, in which he particularly discusses whether it 
may be administered in malignant fevers, and also whe^ 
ther in any fevers before the fourteenth day of the 

" Upon the fame of the Royal Society, spread every 
where abroad, he is very ambitious to submit his dis- 
course to so great and authentic a judgment as theirs 
is, and wishes therefore to dedicate his book to them." 

Hooke replied, that "Dr. Gasparini needs no 
leave to dedicate his book to the Society, such things 
being very usually done without asking a consent; 
but doubtless they cannot but be very well pleased 

^* In 1671, Leibnitz dedicated his Jlypothetit Pkytiea Nwa^ to 
the Society. 


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1670 — ^75.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 229 

with these testimonies of respect from learned and 
ingenious foreigners. And therefore, though they 
do not prompt any to such addresses, yet the author 
need not doubt finding such acceptance thereof by the 
Society, as may answer his expectations." 

Circumstances like these attest how highly the 
Society was esteemed by foreign philosophers. 

Yet it must not be supposed that they were with- 
out enemies and calumniators ; among these was a Dr. 
Stubbe, a physician residing at Warwick, who made a 
fierce attack on the Society, in various works^^ written 
after the publication of Sprat's History and Joseph 
Glanvill's Plus tdtra. 

The language used by Dr. Stubbe is excessively 
i^urrilous and violent, charging the Fellows not only 
with undermining the Universities, and destroying 
the established religion, but also of upsetting ancient 
and solid learning. Another detractor was the Rev. 
Robert Crosse, Vicar of Great Chew, in Somersetshire, 
who maintained that the Royal Society had done 
nothing to advance science, and that Aristotle had 
many more advantages for knowledge than the Royal 
Society, because he did totam peragrare Asiam. It 
was in consequence of Mr. Crosse's attacks, that Glan- 
vill wrote the book entitled Plus uUra, or the Pro- 
gress and Ad/oancement qf Knowledge since the days 
qf Aristotle^ in an account of some of the most re- 
markable late improvements qf practical us^td learn- 
inffy to encourage philosophical endeavours, occasioned 

^'^ These are: A Cenmre upon eeriain ponages contained in tk$ 
^Hittory of the Royal Society,' ae being destructive to the Eetahliehed 
Beligum and Church of England; and, Legends no Hiitoriee, or a 
Specimen of tome Animadvernone upon the 'History of the Royal 


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280 HISTORY OF [1670 — 75. 

by a covtference with one of the notional Tcay; in 
which he affirms that " the impertinent taunts of those 
who accused the Society of doing nothing to advance 
knowledge, were no more to be regarded than the 
little chat of idiots and children." Crosse replied to 
Glanvill, but his book was refused a license at Oxford 
and Cambridge, on account of its scurrility". 

Oldenburg alludes to these attacks in his Preface 
to the 5th Volume of the Transactions, " Let envy 
snarl," he says, " it cannot stop the wheels of active 
philosophy in no part of the known world. Not 
in France, either in Paris, or at Caen. Not in Italy, 
either in Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence, Venice, 
Bononia, or Padua. In none of the Universities, 
either on this or that side of the seas. Madrid and 
Lisbon, all the best spirits in Spain and Portugal, 
and the spacious and remote nations to them belong* 
ing; the Imperial Court, and the Princes of Ger- 
many ; the northern Kings, and their best luminaries ; 
and even the frozen Muscovite and Russian, have all 
taken the operative ferment, and it works high, and 
prevails every way to the encouragement of all sin- 
cere lovers of knowledge and virtue." 

An enemy far more formidable to the Society was 

18 Evelyn in a letter to GlanviU, thanking him for a copy of 
his book Plus ultra, sbjb, ^^ I do not conoeive why the Royall 
Society should any more concern themselves for the malicious and 
empty cavells of these delators, after what you haue said ; but let 
the Moon-dogs bark on, till their throats are drie; the Society 
every day emerges, and her good genius will raise up one or other 
to judge and defend her ; whilst there is nothing which does more 
oonfirme me in the noblenesse of the design, than this spirit of 
oontradiction which the Devil (who hates all discoveries of those 
fidse and proestigious ways that have hitherto obtain'd), does incite 
to stir up men against it." Diary , YoL xi. p. 234. 


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1670 — ^75.] THE KOYAL SOCIETY. 231 

poverty, by which their resources were not only 
crippled, but their very existence rendered doubtful ^*. 
On the 30th November, 1671, it appears, by the 
Treasurer's accounts, which were audited on that 
day, that the arrears of subscriptions due to the So- 
ciety from Fellows amounted to not less than 1696^. ; 
while the receipts in quarterly payments during the 
year, were only 141?. 16s. This sum was wholly in- 
sufficient to purchase such philosophical apparatus as 
was required for the purpose of making experiments, 
and indeed scarcely sufficed to meet the ordinary 
annual expenses of the Society, who were frequently 
under the necessity of soliciting Boyle to lend them 
apparatus for experiments, which request, it is scarcely 
necessary to add, was never refused. 

The name of the Royal Founder occurs so rarely 
at this period, as taking any interest in the Society^ 
that I cannot forbear mentioning a curious wager, 
which Sir Robert Moray declares him to have made. 
The latter, at the request of the King, brought it for- 
ward at one of the Meetings in the early part of 
the year. It was to the effect, that his Majesty had 
wagered 50 L to 51. "for the compression of air by 

It was accordingly resolved, that "Mr. Hooke 
should prepare the necessary apparatus to try the 
experiment, which Sir Robert Moray said might be 

^' It is worthy of mention^ that the Admiralty at this time 
requested the Society to raise some ships sunk off Woolwicli. The 
Counoil replied, that their want of funds rendered it impossible for 
them to provide the necessary machinery, but that otherwise tliey 
would have great pleasure in complying with the request of the 


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232 HISTORY OP [1670 — 75. 

done by a cane, contrived after such a manner, that 
it should take in more and more water, according aa 
it should be sunk deeper and deeper into it." 

The Minutes of a subsequent Meeting record the 
successful performance of the experiment, and it '^ was 
acknowledged that his Majesty had won the wager." 

A curious pamphlet in the British Museum, en- 
titled, PropositioTis/or the carrying on a Philosophical 
Correspondence already begun in the County of Som- 
mersety upon encouragement given from the Royal 
Society^ and published in 1670, affords interesting 
evidence of the gradual growth of philosophical in- 
quiry throughout the country. A Society appears to 
have been organized, very similar in its constitution 
to the local Topographical and Archaeological Associa- 
tions of the present day, the head-quarters of which 
were at Bristol ; and a re jiarkable instance of their 
desire to cultivate philosophy, is conveyed by the 12th 
section of their Rules, which orders, " That the Secre- 
tary set up a foot-post to go weekly from Bristol, the 
centre of intelligence, to various parts of the country, 
for the receiving and sending of letters.'* 

It must have been highly gratifying to the Royal 
Society to see their endeavours to advance know«> 
ledge thus successful. 

On the 21st December, 1671, the Journal-book 
records that " the Lord Bishop of Sarum (Seth Ward) 
proposed for candidate Mr. Isaac Newton, Professor 
of the Mathematicks at Cambridge." In a letter to 
Oldenburg, dated Jan. 6, 1671 — 2, Newton writes: "I 
am very sensible of the honour done me by the Bishop 
of Sarum, in proposing me candidate, and which I 
hope will be further conferred upon me by my elec- 
tion into the Society. And if so, I shall endeavour 


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J670 — 75.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 233 

to testify my gratitude, by communicating what my 
poor and solitary endeavours can effect, towards the 
promoting their philosophical designs." 

On the 11th Jan. 1671 — 2, Newton was elected a 
Fellow*®, and from this period until his decease, the 
name of this illustrious Philosopher is constantly 
found shedding lustre over the scientific history of 
the Society. Some time before his election, he trans* 
mitted his Reflecting Telescope to Mr. Oldenburg, with 
a description of the instrument. This telescope pos- 
sesses so much interest, being the first perfect re- 
flector invented, made by the hands of Newton, and, 
in his own words, *'an epitome of what might be 
done," that a brief account of it will not be unac- 

In a communication to the Society in February, 
1671 — 2, Newton tells us that when he "applyed 
himself to the grinding of optick-glasses of other 
figures than spherical, in the beginning of 1666,*' he 
discovered that '*the perfection of telescopes was 
hitherto limited, not so much for want of glasses 
truly figured, according to the prescriptions of optick 
authors (which all men have hitherto imagined), as 
because that light itself is a heterogeneous mixture 
of differently refrangible rays. This made me take 
reflections into consideration, and finding them regu- 
lar, so that the angle of reflection of all sorts of rays 
was equal to their angle of incidence : I understood 
that by their mediation optick instruments might be 
brought to any degree of perfection imaginable, pro- 
vided a reflecting substance could be found which 
would polish as finely as glass, and reflect as much 

^ Newton was twenty-nine yean old at the time of his election. 

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234 HISTORY OF [1670 — 75. 

light as glass transmits, and the art of communicating 
to it a parabolick figure, be also attained. Amidst 
these thoughts, I was forced from Cambridge by the 
intervening plague, and it was more than two years 
before I proceeded further. But then having thought 
on a tender way of polishing, proper for metall, 
whereby, as I imagined, the figure also would be cor* 
rected to the last, I began to try what might be effected 
in this kind, and by degrees so far perfected an instru- 
ment (in the essential parts of it, like that I sent to 
London), by which I could discern Jupiter's four con- 
comitants, and shewed them divers times to two 
others of my. acquaintance. I could also discern the 
moon-like phase of Venus, but not very distinctly, 
nor without some niceness in disposing the instru- 

This extract shows that the year 1668 may be 
regarded as the date of the invention of Newton's 
reflecting telescope. I say Newton's reflecting tele- 
scope, bec£^use James Gregory, in his Optica Pro- 
mota*\ published in 1663, describes the manner of 
constructing a reflecting telescope, with two concave 

'^ It does not appear that Gregory ever constructed a Telescope. 
In 1664 or 1665^ Sir D. Brewster states, '^ he attempted to make a 
Telescope^ employing Messrs. Rives and Cox, who were celebrated 
glass-grinders of that time, to execute a concave speculum of six 
feet radius, and likewise a small one; but as they had failed in 
polishing the large one, and as Mr. Gregory was on the eve of 
going abroad, he troubled himself no farther about the experiment, 
and the tube of the Telescope was never made." Life of NewUm^ 
p. 28. Thus, Newton's Telescope was the first reflecting Telescope 
directed to the heavens. See a very interesting Paper "On the 
first invention of Telescopes," by Dr. Moll, in the first volume of 
the Journal of the JRoyal iMUtution. 


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1670 — 75.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 235 

specula ; but Newton perceived the disadvantages to 
be so great, that, according to his statement, ''he found 
it necessary, before attempting any thing in the prac- 
tice, to alter the design, and place the eye-glass at the 
side of the tube, rather than at th^ middle." 

On this improved principle he constructed the 
telescope now in the possession of the Royal Society^ 
and of which the engraving at the end of this chapter 
is an accurate representation. The telescope was 
examined by Charles the Second, and the President 
and Fellows, who were so much pleased with it, that 
a letter describing it was drawn up by Oldenburg, 
which after being corrected by Newton, was sent to 
Paris> in order to secure the honour of the invention 
to its author" 

The following letter from Newton to Oldenburg, 
describes the capabilities of this instrument. 

" Cambridge, March 16, 1671. 
" Sir, 

"With the Telescope which I made, I have 
sometimes seen remote objects, and particularly the 
moon, very distinct, in those parts of it which were 
neare the sides of the visible angle. And at other times, 
when it hath been otherwise put together, it hath exhi- 
bited things not without some confusion ; which differ*- 
ence I attributed chiefly to some imperfection that 
might possibly be either in the figures of the metalls 

^ Hooke infonned the Society on the 18th January, 1671 — ^2, 
that he possessed an infallible method of improving all sorts of 
optical instruments, so that '^ whatever almost hath been in notion 
and imagination, or desired in optics, may be performed with 
great fiicility and truth." Nevertheless, he did not communicate his 
method, but concealed it under the form of an anagram, which he 
never explained. 


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236 HISTOBY OP £1670 — 75. 

or eye-glasse ; and once I found it caused by a little 
tarnishing of the metall in four or five days of moist 

*^ One of the ffellows of the College is making such 
another Telescope, "with which last night I looked on 
Jupiter, and he seemed as distinct and sharply defined 
as I have seen him in other Telescopes. When he hath 
finished it, I will examine it more strictly, and send you 
an account of its performances, ffor it seems to be 
^omething better than that which I made. 

" Your humble Servant, 

"I. Newton®. " 

In the description of this telescope, entitled An 
Accompt of a New Catadiaptrical Telescope^ invented 
by Mr. Newton^ published in the 81st Number of the 
Transactions^ it is stated that ^^ the objects are mag- 
nified about 88 times," whereas "an ordinary tele- 
scope of about two feet long only magnifies 13 or 14 

Such is the instrument which, under the hands of 
Herschel and Rosse, has grown to proportions so 
gigantic, as to require the aid of machinery to elevate 
and depress the tube. Newton's first telescope is nine 
inches long, Lord Bosse's six-feet reflector is 60 feet 
in length** ! ! 

» MS. Letters, Royal Society. 

** It 18 not a little amusing to find that Newton's mechanical 
labours caused him to be regarded by some parties abroad as a 
maker of Telescopes. In a book of this period he is styled Artt^ 
fex quidam Atiglui nomine NewUm. 

^ So exquisitely adjusted is tbe machinery connected with this 
gigantic instrument, that the tube is moved with all the ease and 
precision of that of a microscope. The delight which I experienced 
during a day spent in examining this wonderful piece of mechanism, 
under the guidance of Lord Rosse, will long be remembered by me. 


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1670 — ^75.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 237 

On the 8th February, 1671 — 2, the Journal-book 
records a communication firom Mr. Newton, "con- 
cerning his discovery about the nature of light, re- 
fractions, and colours, importing that light was not 
a similar, but a heterogeneous thing, consisting of 
diffbrm rays, which had essentially different refrac- 
tions, abstracted from bodies they pass through, 
and that colours are produced from such and such 
rays, whereof some in their own nature are disposed 
to produce red, others green, others blue, others 
purple, kc., and that whiteness is nothing but a mix- 
ture of all sorts of colours, or that 'tis produced by 
all sorts of colours blended together." 

It was "Ordered that the Author be solemnly 
thanked, in the name of the Society, for this very 
ingenious discourse, and be made acquainted that the 
Society think very fit, if he consent, to have it forth- 
with published, as well for the greater conveniency 
of having it well considered by philosophers, as for 
securing the considerable notions thereof to the 
Author, against the arrogations of others." 

These discoveries were the first of Newton^s pro- 
ductions which saw the light. They are published in 
the 80th No. of the Philosophical Transactions. His 
experiments had been made in 1666, when he was only 
23 years of age. Being employed in grinding glasses 
for telescopes, he had the curiosity to purchase a 
glass prism", in order to observe the celebrated phe- 

" Although the following anecdote probahly refers to a rob- 
sequent part of Newton's life, yet I insert it here as not entirely 
out of place. It forcibly exhibits the truthfulness and simph'city 
of the great philosopher's character, and at the same time the 
concentration of his thoughts upon philosophical subjects, to the 




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238 HISTORY OF [1670 — ^75* 

nomena of the colours. This simple circumstance 
.led to his important discoveries, which he designates 
in a letter to Oldenburg, as " the oddest, if not the 
most considerable detection, which had hitherto been 
made in the operations of nature." Newton accepted 
the proposed speedy and honourable method of pub- 
lication, and in addressing his thanks to Oldenburg, 
says, "It was an esteem of the Royal Society for 
most candid and able judges in philosophical matters, 
that encouraged me to present them with that dis- 
course of light and colours, which, since they have so 
favourably accepted of, I do earnestly desire you to 
return them my most cordial thanks. I before thought 
it a great favour to be made a member of that honour- 
able body, but I am now more sensible of the advan- 
tage : for believe me. Sir, I not only esteem it a duty 
to concur with them in the promotion of real know- 

entire forgetfulness of all beside. I found the anecdote in a yeiy 
old number of the Gentleman's Magazine, It is written by an 
individual who states himself to have been personally acquainted 
with Newton. 

" One of Sir I. Newton's philosophical friends abroad had sent 
him a curious prism^ which was taken to the Custom-house, and 
was at that time a scarce commodity in this kingdom. Sir Isaac, 
laying claim to it, was asked by the officers what the value of 
the glass was, that they might accordingly regulate the duty. The 
great Newton, whose business was more with the universe than 
with duties and drawbacks, and who rated the prism according 
to his own idea of its use and excellence, answered, "That the 
value was so great, that he could not ascertain it." Being again 
pressed to set some fixed estimate upon it, he persisted in his 
reply, "That he could not say what it was worth, for that the 
value was inestimable." The honest Custom-bouse officers accord- 
ingly took him at his word, and made him pay a most exorbitant 
duty for the prism, which he might have taken away upon only 
paying a rate according to the weight of the glass ! !" 


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1670 — 75.J THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 239 

ledge, but a great privilege, that, instead of exposing 
discourses to a prejudiced and censorious multitude 
(by which means many truths have been baffled and 
lost), I may with freedom apply myself to so judicious 
and impartial an assembly." 

It was, however, the fate of J^ewton, in common 
with other great men, to have to submit to the law 
which ordains that merit, and more particularly suc- 
cess, shall give rise to envy. Biot has truly said, 
** By unveiling himself he obtained glory, but at the 
price of his repose." 

No sooner were Newton's optical discoveries com- 
municated to the world, than many individuals as- 
sailed, not only his conclusions, but the accuracy of 
the experiments from which they had been deduced. 
It is not within the province of this work to enter 
into any detailed account of the discussions which 
followed Newton's discoveries,, but I may mention 
that Hooke, Pardies^, Linus*®, and Huyghens, attacked 
him, impugning the accuracy of his theory of light. 
He replied in June 1672, in a manner which estab- 
lished his general doctrines on an impregnable basis. 

Sir D. Brewster well says : " Harassing as such a 
controversy must have been to a philosopher likef 
Newton, yet it did not touch those deep-seated feel- 
ings which characterize the noble and generous -mind.'* 
The truth of this will appear by the following letter 
to Oldenburg, which is preserved in the archives. 

^ This was Father Pardies the Jesuit, Professor of Mathe- 
matics in the College of Clermont. 

^ He was a physician at Liege^ and author of a Paper in the 
Transactionsy entitled, Optical Assertions concerning the Rainbow, 
His objections to Newton's theory are contained in Letter-book, 
Vol. vu. p. 106. 


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240 HISTORY OF [1670 — 75i 

*' Sir, '' Jun0 11, 1672. 

'' I SEND you my answers to Mr. Hooke and 
P. Pardies, which I hope will bring with them that 
satisfaction which I promised. And as there is nothing 
in Mr. Hooke's considerations with which I am not 
well contented, so I presume there is as little in mine 
which he can except against, since you will easily see 
that I have industriously avoyded the intermixing of 
oblique and glancing expressions in my discourse. So 
that I hope it will be needless to trouble the R. So-» 
ciety to adjust noiatters. However, if there should pos« 
sibly be any thing esteemed of that kind, I desire it 
may be interpreted candidly, and with respect to the 
contents of Mr. Hooke's considerations; and I shall 
readily give way to the mitigation of whatsoever the 
heads of the E. Society shall esteem personalL And, 
concerning my former answer to P. Pardies, I resigne 
to you the same liberty which he hath done for his 
objections, of mollifying any expressions that may have 
a shew of harshnesse." 

*'Your Servant, 

"I. Newton." 

Although these controversies terminated in the 
total defeat of all his opponents, yet Newton seems to 
have felt them most keenly. In a letter to Olden* 
burg, eontaining his reply to Huyghens, he says : ^' I 
intend to be no farther solicitous about matters of 
philosophy ; and therefore I hope you will not take 
it ill, if you find me never doing any thing more in 
that kind»" 

^ In the original of this letter (which is preserved in the Royal 
Society), the lines quoted above are erased with a pen, but not 
80 efiectually as to prevent their being deciphered. It is probable 
that this was done by Oldenburg. 


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1670 — ^75.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 241 

Fortunate, indeed, was it for science that such a 
body as the Royal Society existed, to whom Newton 
could make his scientific communications ; otherwise, 
it is very possible that the Prindpia would never 
have seen the light. 

At the Anniversary in 1672, John Evelyn was 
elected Secretary in the place of Thomas Henshaw; 
but retained office only one year. During 1672, the 
Society lost three eminent members : Matthew Wren, 
Francis Willughby, and Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Ches- 
ter. They were original Fellows of the Society ; and 
the latter held office as Secretary, according to the 
terms of the First Charter, until raised to the Bench. 
He left a legacy of 400/. to the Society. 

On the 26th April, 1673, Ward, in the Preface to 
his Lives of the Gresham Prqfessors, states that "four 
gentlemen of figure, members of the Gresham Com- 
mittee, Sir John Lawrence, Alderman, and Sir Thomas 
Player, Chamberlain, on behalf of the city, with Sir 
Richard Ford, Alderman, and Samuel Moyer, Esq., for 
the Mercers, were desired to attend the Lord Brounc- 
ker. President of the Royal Society, and, in the name 
of the Committee, to invite the Society to return, 
and hold their sessions in Gresham College, as they 
had been accustomed to do before the Fire. And the 
Professors of the College also waited on his Lordship, 
with the like request*^." On the 9th October the 
President communicated this invitation to the Council; 
whereupon ^* the Council thought good to have their 
hearty thanks returned to the Committee of Gresham 
College for their kindness and respect ; yet without 
saying any thing to them of acceptance, or not 

~ P. 16. 


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242 HISTORY OF [1670 — 75. 

acceptance ; only, in case they should give occasion 
for saying more, that then it might be intimated 
that this business was under consideration." It ap- 
pears that the Council thought fistvourably of the 
proposition, as, on the 6th November, 1673, at a 
Council held that day, '' the Lord Marshall was made 
acquainted with their thoughts of removing their 
weekly assemblyes to Gresham College, and of be- 
ginning to meet there again upon the next Anniver- 
sary ; the Council being moved thereto, by consider- 
ing the conveniency of makeing their experiments 
in the place where their Curator dwells, and the 
apparatus is at hand ; as also, by the solemn invita^ 
tion of the city of London and the Professors of 
Gresham College, and likewise from the hopes (they 
find ground to entertain), of meeting with some 
considerable benefactors at that end of the citty. 

That though the Society should thus remove 

their Meetings, yet they were full of hopes that his 
Lordship would be so far from removing his favours 
and kindnesses from them, that he would preserve 
them in the same degree he had done all along, and 
especially, during the many years he hath entertained 
them under his roof To all which the Council added 
this humble request : that my Lord Marshall would 
be pleased to give the Council leave still to meet 
upon occasion in his Lordship's house ; there to enjoy 
the honor and advantage of his counsel and direc- 
tions, which they had always found so affectionate and 
considerable to them." 

" Whereupon my Lord Marshall very obligeingly 
and generously declared : that though he always 
had esteemed, and still did esteem, it a great honour 
to his house, that the Royal Society kept their assem- 


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J670 — ^75,] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 243 

biles there, yet, understanding that the Council appre^ 
hended it really to be for the service and good of the 
Society to return to Gresham College, he could not 
but give up his reason to the reason of the Council : 
adding, further, that he should continue the same re- 
spect and concern for the Society wherever they mett, 
and be glad to receive the Council in his house upon 
any occasion of their meeting." The Society passed a 
vote of thanks to the Earl Marshall on the 6th No- 
vember ; and on the 1st December, 1678, assembled 
again in Gresham College". As, hovirever, the south 
and west galleries^ which had been occupied by the 
merchants, were not in a state to be used as a repo- 
sitory and library, the Society continued occasionally 
to meet at Arundel House, until '^November 12, 1674, 
when they re-settled themselves wholly at Gresham 

Amongst the many interesting communications 
made to the Society during 1673, must not be omit- 

3^ The minutes of a sub^committee of the Gresham College 
Committee, held on Dec. 1, 1673, record that "The Committee now 
met^ and welcomed the Royal Society into the same accommoda- 
tions they enjoyed in this house before the late general ¥yie in 
1666." And Evelyn says in his Diary y under the date of Dec. 1673, 
*'To Gresham College, whitker the citty had invited the Royal 
Society by many of their chiefe Aldermen and Magistrates^ who 
gave us a collation to welcome us to our first place of assembly^ 
from whence we had been driven to give place to the citty, on their 
making it their Exchange on the dreadful conflagration, till their 
new Exchange was finished, which it now was." Vol. i. p. 441- 

^ Ward's Livss^ Preface, p. 17, and Council-book, Vol. i. p. 
222. At this meeting of the Council there were present, the Bishop 
of Salisbury in the chair, the Earl Marshall, Earl of Dorset, Lord 
Stafford, Sir John Lowther, Mr. Colwall, Mr. Hill, and Mr. Olden^ 



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244 HISTORY OF [1670—75. 

ted those of the celebrated Leuwenhoeck, under whose 
hands the microscope became an instrument of infi- 
nite utility to science* The first notice of the Father 
of microscopical discoveries, as he may be called, 
occurs in a letter from Dr. Graaf to Oldenburg, dated 
April 28, 1673, in which ** one Mr. Leuwenhoeck," 
he writes, " hath lately contrived microscopes, excel- 
ling those that have been hitherto made;" adding^ 
that " he hath given a specimen of their excellency 
by divers observations, and is ready to receive difficult 
tasks for more, if the curious in London shall please 
to send him such ; which they are not like to be 
wanting in." A short comimunication by Leuwenhoeck 
accompanied the letter, in which he described the 
structure of a bee and louse"*. From this period, 
until his decease in 1723, he was in the habit of con- 
stantly transmitting to the Society all his micro- 
scopical observations and discoveries'^. Some idea 
may be formed of his industry, by the fact, that there 
are 375 papers and letters firom him, preserved in the 
archives, extending over a period of fifty years. His 
gratitude to the Society, for receiving and publishing 
his communications, will be seen by the following 
interesting extract firom one of his letters : 

''Ddfi, 2 Aug., 1701. 
"Hon"" Gentlemen, 

'^ Mt last to your Honours was dated the 
2l8t June, wherein I humbly offer'd you my observa- 
tions about spiders, since when I have received the 

»5 Printed in Trantacticm^ Vol. vm. p. 6037. 

^ These, amounting to 125 Papers, are inserted in the TVont- 
aeiioM. They have also been printed in Dutch at Delft and 


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1670—75.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 245 

book which treats of fishes, and the whole set of Phih- 
sophicall Transactions for the year 1700» for which noble 
presents I return you my most hearty thanks. 

'< I have a small black cabinet, lacker'd and gilded, 
which has five little drawers in it, wherein are contained 
thirteen long and square tin boxes, covered with black 
leather. In each of these boxes are two groimd micro- 
scopes, in all six and twenty ; which I did grind myself, 
and set in silver ; and most of the silver was what I had 
extracted from minerals, and separated from the gold 
that was mixed with it ; and an account of each glass 
goes along with them^. 

"This Cabinet, with the aforesaid Microscopes, 
{which I shall make use of as long as I live), I have 
directed my only daughter to send to your Honors, as 
soon as I am dead, as a mark of my gratitude, and 
acknowledgment of the great honor which I have re« 
ceived from the Royal Society"*.*' 

It may be stated here that, in 1724, the Council 
presented Leuwenhoeck's daughter with a handsome 
silver bowl, bearing the arms of the Society, in tes- 
timony of their esteem for her deceased parent, and 
as an acknowledgment for his valuable legacy. 

In 1674 the unhappy state of the Society's finances 
seriously engaged the attention of the Council. The 
Treasurers accounts showed that the arrears, in 
November 1673, had increased to 1957/.; and, on care- 

^ These Microeoopes were exhibited to Peter the Oieat, when 
he waa at Delft in 1698. The Ozar requested Leuwenboeck to 
pay him a visit, and to bring some of his admirable microscopes, 
adding, that he would have gone to visit him at his residence, had 
it not been for the wish he had to escape the notice of the multitude. 

^ Letter-book, Vol. xni. p. 183. 


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246 HISTORY OF [1670 — 75, 

fully revising the list of Fellows, it was found that 
out of 146, the number on the books, "only 53 paid 
well, 79 did not, and 14 were absent in the country*'.*' 
After several discussions as to the most advisable 
manner of proceeding, in order to collect a portion 
of the arrears, and enforce the payment of subscrip- 
tions, it was " Ordered, that there should be prepared 
a forme of a legal subscription for paying fifty-two 
shillings a year. That as many of the Fellows as are 
willing to further the business of the Society, shall be 
desired to advance a year's weekly contribution, for 
carrying on the work thereof with more vigour than 

The Attorney-General, at the request of the Coun- 
cil, drew up the following obligation, which was 
approved, and ordered to be signed by every newly- 
elected Fellow. 

" I, , do grant and agree .with the President, 

Council, and Fellows of the Royal Society of London 
for improving natural knowledge, that, so long as I 
shall continue a Fellow of the said Society, I will pay to 
the Treasurer of the said Society for the time being, or 

'^ In a Volume of MSS. in tbe Britifih Museum, relating to 
the Royal Society, is a sheet containing the names of Fellows who 
will probably pay and give yearly one entertainment to the So- 
ciety, " Amongst these are, Lord Brouncker, Bishop of SalLsbury, 
Boyle, Petty, Wren, Evelyn, Wallis, and Goddard." The latter 
says, Aubrey '' was a zealous member of the Royal Society for 
the improvement of natural knowledge. They made him their 
drudge, for when any curious experiment was to be donne, they 
would lay the task on him. He intended to have left all his papers 
and books to the Royal Society, bad he made his will, and not 
dyed so suddenly." Opposite the names of Dr. Grew, Hooke, and 
Newton, in the MS. referred to, are the words, ^' No Pay, but will 
contribute experiments." 


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.1670 — 75.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 247 

to his Deputy, the sum of Fifty Two Shillings per 
annum, by four equal quarterly payments, at the four 
usuall dayes of payment; that is to say, the Feast of 
the Nativity of our Lord, the Annunciation of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feast of St. John Baptist, 
and the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel : the first 

payment to be made upon the next ensuing the 

date of these Presents ; and I will pay in proportion, 
viz. One Shilling per week for any lesser time, after 
any the said dayes of payment, that I shall continue 
Fellow of the said Society. For the true payment 
whereof I bind myself and my heirs in the penal sum 
of Twenty Pounds. In witnesse whereof, I have here- 
unto set my hand and seal, this — -. ." 

A collector was appointed, and some influential 
Fellows were requested to call upon several Noble- 
men who were in arrear with their subscriptions. 

With the view of increasing the interest of the 
weekly Meetings, the Council " Ordered, that such of 
the Fellows as regard the welfare of the Society, 
should be desired to oblige themselves to entertain 
the Society, either per se^ or, per alios, once a year^ 
at least, with a philosophical discourse, grounded upon 
experiments made, or to be made; and, in case of 
failure, to forfeit 5Z." And they passed a resolution, 
at a subsequent Meeting, rendering it imperative on 
every member of the existing Council " to provide an 
experimental! discourse for the Society, to be made 
at some publique Meeting within the year, either by 
himself, or by some other Member of the Society, or 
to pay forty shillings*.** Besides the Members of 

^ The Earl of Aylesbury was the first who forfeited and paid 



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248 HISTOBY OF [1670 — 75. 

Ck>uiicil, other Fellows were selected as ^'able and 
likely" to furnish '' discourses'* for the Society ; and 
it was resolved, that the following letter should be 
written by the President, to every person so selected : 

" Sir, 

** The Council of the Royal Society, consider- 
ing within themselves the great importance of having 
the Public Meetings of the said Society constantly pro- 
vided with entertainments, suitable to the design of 
their Institution, have thought fit to undertake to con- 
tribute each of them one, not doubting but that many 
of the Fellows of the Society will join with them in 
carrying on sucb an undertaking. And, well persuaded 
of the approbation of this their purpose, so much tend- 
ing to the reputation and support of the Society, they 
desire that you would be pleased to undertake for one, 
and to name any Thursday, as shall be most convenient 
to you, when you will present the Society, at one of 
the said public Meetings, by yourself, or by some other 
of the Fellows for you, with such a discourse, grounded 
upon, or leading to, philosophical experiments, on a sub- 
ject of your own choice^ In doing of which, you will 
benefit the Society, and oblige, Sir, 

** Your humble Servant, 

" Brounckbr, p. R. S.*" 

Oldenburg, with his habitual activity, obtained 
many papers for the Society : writing to Ray, under 
the date of September 15, 1674, he says : 

the above sam : he engaged to provide the Society with an enter- 
tainment, but being called out of town, was unable to do so. 

^ It is stated in the Council-book, that the draft of ^ the 
above letter was prepared hy Oldenburg, *'but viewed and altered 
bj the President." 


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1670 — 75.] THE BOTAL SOCIETY. 249 

" I cannot conclude this, nvithout giving you notice, 
that the Council of the Royal Society intends to engage 
those of the Fellows of that body, that are able and 
willing to give them, once a year, each of them, an 
experimental entertainment at their ordinary Meetings : 
that is, some good discourse, grounded on experiments 
made, or to be made ; that so their weekly Meetings 
may be more considerable and inviting than hitherto 
they have been, and the work of the Society not Ue 
altogether on the shoulders of three or four of the Fel- 
lows. And this being to reach the absent as well as 
the present (I mean of those that have opportunity and 
ability), I do herewith intimate to you, that you are 
looked upon as one of those which the said Council 
have in their eye for such an exercise, desiring you, that 
you would think upon such a subject as yourself shall 
judge proper, for one entertainment of that company, 
after our Anniversary Election-day the next year : and 
if your occasions should not permit you to step to Lon- 
don, to present your discourse yourself, they have found 
an expedient, viz. to desire you, and such '^others as 
shall be in that case, to send it up to London to any of 
your friends, that may present and read it for you. 
It is farther intended, that such discourses shall be 
made publick if the author so think fit, and not other- 

Although the Council used such strong measures 
to compel the Fellows of the Society, who were in 
arrears, to pay their subscription regularly, yet, it 
appears by the Minutes, that under extraordinary cir- 
cumstances some Members were exempted from their 
pecuniary obligations ; and it is not a little remark- 

^ PhiL Letters between Ray and his Correspondents, p. 126. 

tized by Google 


250 HISTORY OF [1670 — ^75. 

able, that one of the first to request exemption was 
Newton. Under the date of January 28, 1673 — 4, 
the Council Minutes record : " It was mentioned by 
the Secretary, that Mr. Newton had intimated his 
being now in such circumstances that he desired to 
be excused from the weekly payments ; it was agreed 
unto by the Council, that he should be dispensed 
with, as several others were." Mr. Baily, in his Ac- 
coutU qfFlamsteed, conceives that Newton's biographers 
are in error in attributing his wish to be excused his 
weekly payments, to his slender means at that time*^ 
I cannot help differing from Mr. Baily on this point : 
my impression is, that it was no other than a tem- 
porary want of money which induced Newton to 
address the Council in terms carrying .with them the 
conviction of pecuniary inability**. He had mentioned 
the subject at a much earlier period to Oldenburg,, 
in a letter, dated "Cambridge, June 23, 1673 :" "For 
your proffer," he says, "about my quarterly payments 
I thank you ; but I would not have you trouble your- 

*i P. 90. 

** Those who have read Baily's Account of the Eev. John Flam" 
$teedj will probably remember, that the great aim of the work is 
to elevate Flamsteed, too often at the expense of Newton's cha- 
racter. But it should also be borne in mind, that the chief portion 
of the work consists of Flamsteed's prwate Journal or Diary, 
assuredly never intended by its- author to meet the public eye. 
It is written, as all private diaries must necessarily be, very exparte^ 
and self-praising, and cannot be received by impartial persons as suf- 
ficient testimony with reference to the unfortunate dispute between 
himself and Newton. It is curious that Mr. Baily should have 
come to the conclusion, that Newton was able to pay his subscrip- 
tion to the Society with ease, when he prints in the same volume 
this assertion of Flamsteed's: " Newton was obliged to read mathe- 
matics for a salary at Cambridge." 


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1670 — 75.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 251 

fielf to get them excused, if you have not done so 
already^." In this reply to Oldenburg's offer, ac- 
quainting the Council with the young Philosopher s 
circumstances, we have satisfactory proof of the in- 
convenienoe he experienced in paying his subscrip- 

The generosity of the Council was not without its 
reward, as ^^the poor Cambridge Student," grateful 
for the consideration shown him, was, probably, in- 
cited to labour more zealously for itoience and the 
Royal Society, to whom he communicated all his 
noble discoveries. The great Philosopher praying to 
be excused from the payment of one shilling per 
week, contrasts curiously with his subsequent wealth. 

In 1675 the Observatory at Greenwich was built, 
of which Flamsteed, who became a Fellow of the 
Society in 1676, was appointed the Astronomical Ob- 
servator (the title stiU retained in official documents) 
by warrant, under the Royal sign-manual, with a 
salary of lOOL per annum. 

The establishment of this highly-useful national 
institution, with which the Royal Society has been 
intimately associated from its foundation to the pre- 
sent time, forms so important an epoch in this history, 
as to merit some notice here. 

Flamsteed thus describes the circumstances : 

*' Betwixt my coming up to London and Easter 
(1675), an accident happened that hastened, if it did not 
occasion, the building of the Observatory. A French- 
man, that called himself Le Sieur de St. Pierre, having 

^ Archives: Royal Society. This portion of the letter has been 
crossed by the pen, with the view of preventing its being printed. 


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252 msTOBT OF [1^70 — ^75. 

some small skill in Astronomy, and made an interest 
with a French lady ^, then in favoor at Court, proposed no 
less than the discovery of the longitude ; and had pro- 
cured a kind of commission from the King, to the Lord 
Brouncker, Dr. Ward (Bishop of Salisbury), Sir Christo- 
pher Wren, Sir Charles Scarborough, Sir Jonas Moore, 
CoL Titus, Dr. Pell, Sir Robert Moray, Mr. Hooke, 
and some other ingenious gentlemen about the town 
and court, to receive his proposals ; with power to elect, 
and to receive into their number any other skilful per* 
sons ; and, having heard them, to give the King an 
account of them, with their opinion, whether or no they 
were practicable, and would shew what he pretended. 
Sir Jonas Moore carried me with him to one of their 
meetings, when I was chosen into their number; and, 
after the Frenchman's proposals were read : which were, 
" 1. To have the year and day of the observations ; 
** 2. The height of two stars, and on which side 
of the meridian they appeared ; 

'' 3. The height of the moon's two limbs ; 
'^ 4. The height of the pole : all to degrees and 
minutes ; 

it was easy to perceive from these demands that the 
Sieur understood not that the best lunar tables differed 
from the heavens ; and that therefore his demands were 
not sufficient for determining the longitude of the 
place where such observations were, or should be made, 
from that to which the lunar tables were fitted ; which 
I represented immediately to the company. But they^ 
considering the interests of his patroness at Court, de- 
sired to have him furnished according to his demand. 

** In another place Flamsteed infomis us that this lady was 
the Duchess of Portsmouth. 


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1670 — ^75.] THE BOTAL SOCIETY. 263 

I undertook it» and gave him observations such as he 
demanded. The half-skilled man did not think they 
could have been g^ven him; but cunningly answered^ 
they were feigned, I then wrote a letter, in English, to 
the Commissioners, and another, in Latin, to the Sieur, 
to assure him they were not feigned. I heard no 
more of the Frenchman after this ; but was told that, 
my letters being shewn King Charles, he startled at the 
assertion of the fixed stars' places being false in the 
catalogue^; said with some vehemence, * he must have 
them anew observed, examined, and corrected, for the 
use of his seamen ;' and, further, (when it was urged to 
him how necessary it was to have a good stock of ob* 
serVations taken, for correcting the motion of the moon 
and planets), with the same earnestness, ' he must have 
it done/ And when he was asked. Who could, or who 
should do it ? * The person,' says he, * who informs you 
' of them/ Whereupon I was appointed to it**." 

Flamsteed was mainly indebted for his appoint- 
ment to Sir Jonas Moore, at whose house in the Tower 
he carried on astronomical observations. Sir Jonas 
contemplated establishing a private observatory at 
Chelsea College, which was abandoned when the King 
expressed his intention of founding one at Green- 

According to Flamsteed, the site of Greenwich 
for the Observatory was determined by Sir Christo- 
pher Wren. In his AtUchiography he says, "The 
next thing to be thought of was a place to fix in. 
Several were proposed, as Hyde Park and Chelsea 

^ Flamsteed stated in his letters that the places of the fixed 
stars were not truly given. 

*• Flamsteed's History of his awn Life^ p. 37- 


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254 HISTOBY OF [1670 — 75. 

College ; — I went to view the ruins of this latter, and 
judged it might serve the turn, and the better, because 
it was near the Court. Sir Jonas rather inclined to 
Hyde Park: but Sir Christopher Wren mentioning 
Greenwich Hill, it was resolved on. The King allowed 
£500. in money, with bricks from Tilbury Fort, where 
there was a spare stock, and some wood, iron, and 
lead, from a gatehouse demolished in the Tower; 
and encouraged us further with a promise of affording 
what more should be requisite. The foundation was 
laid August 10, 1675, and the work carried on so 
well, that the roof was laid, and the building covered 
by Christmas.*' 

Mr. Baily states, ^* that this Observatory was for- 
merly a tower built by Humphrey, Duke of Glouces- 
ter, and repaired or rebuilt by Henry VIII. in 1626. 
That it was sometimes the habitation of the younger 
branches of the royal family; sometimes the resi- 
dence of a favourite mistress; sometimes a prison, 
and sometimes a place of defence. Mary of York, 
fifth daughter of Edward lY., died at the tower in 
Greenwich Park in 1482. Henry YIII. visited "a 
fayre lady," whom he loved, here. In Queen Eliza- 
beth's time it was called Mirefleur- In X642, being 
then called Greenwich Castle, it was thought of so 
much consequence, as a place of strength, that imme- 
diate steps were ordered to be taken for securing it. 
After the Restoration, Charles II., in 1675, pulled 
down the old tower, and founded on it3 site the pre** 
sent Royal Observatory*'." 

The connexion of the Royal Society with the Ob- 
servatory commenced by the Society lending to the 

^' AewufU of FlatMteedy p. 39. 


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1675 80j THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 255 

new establishment some astronomical instruments, 
which Flamsteed required. The Minutes record: — 
''it was ordered, that the astronomical instruments 
belonging to the Society be lent to the Observatory 
at Greenwich, and that Mr. Hooke's new quadrant 
be forthwith finished at the charges of the Sodety." 

Bearing in mind the apathetic conduct of the King 
towards the Royal Society, it will not appear extra«» 
ordinary that the Observatory, so hurriedly established, 
was left for a period of nearly fifteen years without a 
single instrument being furnished by Government^. 
Sir Jonas Moore provided Flamsteed with a sextant, 
two clocks^^ a telescope, and some books; all the 
other instruments, excepting the foregoing, and those 

^ It is curions, though not grati^-ing, to oonkast the nohle 
manner in which Louis XIV. patroniaed science, with that of 
Charles the Second. In 1706, a solar eclipse occurred, when, says 
Fontenelle in the Histaire de TAcad&mie Royale des Sciences^ ^^Le 
Eat vaultU voir /aire lei observations par des Astroncmes de TAca- 
dimie^ et pour eela M. Cassini le Jils^ et M, de la Hire le fils^ al^ 
Urent it Mnurly avee tons les insirufMnts nSeessaires, Toute la maison 
royale et Unite la courfurerU tSmoins des operations^ et Monseigneur 
le Due de Bourgogne^ qui fait bien voir que les sciences peuvent trouver 
leur place parmi les occupations des plus grands princeSy dStermina 
lui fnhne plusieurs phases" p. 1 14. 

^ Under the date of Dec. 9, 1736, the following entry occurs 
in the Journal-hook : — ^^ Mr. Hodgson made a present of the late 
Mr. Flamsteed's Clock, which, in hb time, stood in the great room 
of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich." It goes thirteen months 
without winding up, and was the donation of Sir Jonas Moore, 
whose name is inscribed on the dial-plate with this motto, *'Sir 
Jonas Moore caused this movement with great care to be thus 
made, Anno 1676. Thomas Tompion." On the 3rd Nov, 1737, 
Mr. Hodgson also presented to the Society the object-glass of 
a 90-feet tube, "being that which Mr. Flamsteed designed to have 
used in the well of the Observatory at Greenwich, but was pre- 
vented in it by the damp of the place." 


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256 HISTORY OP [1675 — 80. 

lent by the Royal Society, were made at Flamsteed's 
expense**. **It is true," says Mr. Baily, ''that they 
had given him a house to live in, and had appro- 
priated a precarious salary of 100/. a year; but, at 
the same time, although bis employments were suffi- 
ciently laborious, the King had ordered that he should 
instruct monthly two boys from Christ Church Hos- 
pital, which was a great annoyance to him, and inter- 
fered with his proper avocations**." 

It was well for astronomical science and the 
nation, that Flamsteed was selected to fill the im- 
portant office of Astronomer Royal ; for it is only 
paying a just tribute to his extraordinary energy and 
indefatigability to say, that any other man would pro- 
bably have succumbed under the amount of drudgery 
appertaining to the office*'; if, indeed, in the absence 
of encouragement, he would have continued in it at 
all, and particularly when the pecuniary reward was 
so insignificant. 

Delambre in his Histoire de I'Astranomie an 
18*^ Siicle, has justly remarked, Ce n'estpas le tautf 
que de fonder un Observatoire, et de doter Fastronome ; 
U faudroit /aire unfonds annuel pour Fimpression, 
et imposer d Vastronome Vcbligation de n'itre jamais 
en retard d'une annSe. It is a curious and interest- 
ing fact, that the Observatory, so sadly neglected by 
its Royal Founder, was honoured by two visits from 
Peter the Great, to whom Russia is indebted for her 
Academy of Sciences, and first national Observatory". 

^ Daily's Aeeounty p. 45. « Ibid., p. 27. 

** In a letter to Sir Jonas Moore, Flamsteed talks of earning 
his salary by labour " harder than thrwhing." 
" These were founded in 1724. 


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1675 — 80.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 257 

It appears by Flamsteed's Historia Coslestis, that the 
Czar paid his first visit on the 6th Feb. 1697 — 8, oppo- 
site to which date Flamsteed has written, Serenissimo 
Pbtrus Moscovijb Czarus, Observatorium primum 
visum veniU lustratisque instrumentis habitu privato 
abiiU Aderant secum Brticetis, parentibus Scotis 
MoscovioB nattiSy legatus militaris; J. Woljias et 
StUeuSj me^'catores Angli. His second visit took 
place on the 8th March following, on which occasion 
his Imperial Majesty made a complete observation 
of Venus; thus recorded, Observante Serenissimo 
Petro MoscoviiE CzARO ; proving that he not only 
saw the planet through the telescope, but made the 

It would be ungracious to pass from this i^bject, 
without remarking that the Observatory of Green- 
wich, although left so long unassisted by Govern- 
ment, has, from 1676 (when Flamsteed began his 
official labours) to the present time, continued to give 
the astronomical world a series of observations, un* 
equalled for their extent, and unsurpassed by any 
in accuracy. L'Observatoire de Greenwich^ says M. 
Struve, a datS la science de cette sSrie non interrom- 
pue d^ observations, qui embra^sent actuellem^nt 167 
ans, et qui, par rapport aux mouvements du soleil, de 
la lune et des plandtes, et aux positions des 6toiles 
Jix6Sj doivent etre regardSes comm^ la base des nos 
ccnnaissances oMronomiques. 11 y a, dans Vhistoire 
de Vobservatoire de Greenwich, un point trds remar- 
quablcy savoir que les a^tronomss ont travaillS sur un 
mSme plan, depuis Vorigine de ntaUissement jusqu'd 
t6poque actitdle^. This is high praise from a high 

•* Description de rObservatoire de Paulkova, 4to. P^tersbourg, 
1845, p. 5. 

VOL. I. 8 


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258 HISTORY OF [1675 — 80. 

authority, and is honourable to the various Astro- 
nomers-Royal, of whom a list is subjoined**. The 
Observatory will be frequently brought under our 
notice in the course of this history. 

In 1676 the Society received several communi- 
cations from travellers, giving accounts of '^ the nota^ 
bles" observed in the countries they had visited. 
These communications were the results of the queries 
issued by the Society, and formed valuable additions 
to the very limited geographical knowledge of that 

The Society were not satisfied with this mode 
alone of obtaining information : when a traveller 
arrived in London from remote countries, some Fel- 
low was deputed to call on him, and invite him to 
the Meetings. Thus, Evelyn tells us, that he was 
"desired by the Royal Society to call upon, and 
salute a Mons. Jardine, who had been thrice in the 
East Indies and Persia, in their name ; and to invite 
him to honour them with his comjmny**." Evelyn 
adds, that he was accompanied by Sir C. Wren and 
Sir J. Hoskyns, and that they found Mons. Jardine 
'^ a very handsome person, extremely affiible, and not 
inclined to talke wonders." 

In the Minutes of the Oxford Philosophical Society 
it is recorded that Dr. Plot greatly entertained the 

" Flarasteed 1676 to 1 719 

HaUey 1719 „ 1742 

Bradley 1742 „ 1762 

BK88 1762 „ 1765 

Maskelyne 1765 „ 1811 

Pond 1811 „ 1835 

Airy 1835 still continues. 

*« Diary, Vol. i. p. 490. 


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1675 — 80.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 259 

company by giving an account of what he had seen 
at a Meeting of the Royal Society in 1676. He 
stated 'Hhat a merchant, lately come from China^ 
exhibited to the Society a handkerchief made of 
Salamander's wool, or Linum Asbesti, which, to try 
whether it were genuine or no, was put into a strong 
charcoal fire, in which not being injur'd, it was taken 
out, oil'd, and put in again ; the oil being burnt off the 
handkerchief, was taken out again, and was altered only 
in two respects, it lost 2dr. 5gr. of its weight, and 
was more brittle than ordinary ; for which reason it was 
not handled until it ^as grown cold, by which means 
it had recovered its former tenacity, and in a great 
measure its weight. The merchant who obliged the 
Society with the sight of so great a rarity, acquainted 
them that he received it from a Tartar, who told him 
that the Tartars, among whom this sort of cloth is, 
sold it at 801. sterling the China ell, which is less 
than our ell ; and that they greatly use this cloth in 
burning the bodyes (to preserve the ashes) of great 
persons, and that in Tartary it is affirmed to be made 
of the root of a tree*^" 

The year 1677 was attended by a melancholy 
event for the Society, the loss of Oldenburg, who 
died suddenly in September, at Charlton in Kent. 
Oldenburg, who sometimes wrote himself Grubbendol, 
was born at Bremen**, and for several years acted 
as agent in England with the Protectorate, for the 
republic of Lower Saxony. In 1656 he entered 
as a student in the University of Oxford, under the 

" MS. Minutes, Vol. i. p. 72. 

*• In the letters to him from Milton, printed in the Epist, 
Familiares of the latter, he ia styled Orator J3remenHum. 



zed by Google 

260 HISTORY OF [1675—80. 

name and title of Henricas Oldenburg, Bremensis 
nobilis Saxo^. On leaving Oxford, he went to France 
with Mr. Richard Jones, son of Lord Ranalagh*^, 
with whom he travelled until 1661, in which year 
they returned to England. From 1662, when he 
became Secretary to the Society, to the period of 
his decease, he was indefatigable in the perform- 
ance of all his secretarial duties*\ which, as we have 
seen, were unrewarded until 1669, when a salary of 
40^. a year was allowed him'". This act of justice 
was most necessary to Oldenburg, as the Philosophi- 
cal Transactions never yielded him a greater profit 
than 40 Z. a year, and generally fell considerably 
below this sum. In 1666, Boyle manifested great 
zeal in his favour, and joined Lord Brouncker in 
applying for the appointment of Latin Secretary to 
the King, which, however, they were unsuccessful in 
obtaining for him. He married a daughter of Mr. 
John Drury, a divine of considerable celebrity, by 
whom he had two children. His son, named Rupert, 
from his god-father Prince Rupert, received a present 

•• Wood, Foitu Oxon., Vol. n. p. 114. 

•• Milton, EpxMt. FamU. 24—25. 

•* Dr. Derham, in his Life of Bay, saya, that " Oldenhui^ was 
in the habit of corresponding every month with that naturalist. 
He was a very diligent Secretary, and laboared very heartily to 
keep up the Society's correspondence, and get all the information 
he could about curious matters, from all persons that be knew or 
heard were able to furnish him with any : and the better to ac- 
complish his ends, he would send his ingenious correspondents an 
account of matters that came to his knowledge, as well as expect 
a plentiful return from them." p. 44. 

" An Ode in praise of Oldenburg, a copy of which exiats in the 
British Museum, styles him the illustrious, laborious, and precise 


zed by Google 

1675 — 80.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 261 

in 1717 from the Council of the Society, in considera- 
tion of his father's eminent services. These, indeed, 
it would be almost impossible to over-rate, and it • 
may be mentioned that when attacked by Hooke on 
account of the Philosophical Transactions^ he was ' 
at once justified by a declaration of the Council. 

At the anniversary in 1677, Hooke and Dr. Grew 
were elected Secretaries, and liord Brouncker retired 
from the Presidency, which he had held with great 
advantage to the Society for fifteen years. He was 
succeeded by Sir Joseph Williamson, a Memoir of 
whom commences the next Chapter. 

Inscription an the Stand. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Memoir of Sir J. Wiliiamson — Norfolk Library removed to Gre- 
sham College — Rules for its preservation — Halley elected — 
Observatory at Gresham College — ^Monument used for Ajstro- 
nomical purposes — Philoiopkical CoUectiom published by 
Hooke— His Salary increased — Sir J. Williamson resigns — 
Boyle chosen President — His reasons for declining the Office — 
Wren elected — Memoir of him — Crew's Catalogue of the So- 
ciety's Museum — Chelsea College sold by Wren — ^Admission of 
Fellows made more difficult — Wren retires from the Presi- 
dency — Eveljm solicited to become President — Declines — Sir 
John Hoskyns elected — Memoir of him — Publication of Tratu^ 
actions resumed — Experiments made — Present of Curiosities 
from China — Limited state of Knowledge of Foreign Countries — 
Sir John Hoskjms resigns-^Sir Cyril Wyche elected President — 
Memoir of him — Papin elected a Curator — His Bone-digester 
^-Curious Account of a Supper prepared by him for the Fel- 
lows — His Steam-Engine Inventions — Croonian Lecture— Lady 
Sadleir^s Legacy — Lister's Geological Maps — Lord Claren- 
don's Present of Minerals— Resignation of Sir Cyril Wyche — 
Pepys elected President — Sir Thomas Molyneux's Account 
of the Society. 


SIR Joseph Williamson was the son of the Rev. 
Joseph Williamson, rector of Bridekirk in Cum- 
berland. While yet a boy he visited London, in the 
capacity of clerk to Mr. Richard Folson, member of 
parliament for Cockermouth, who sent him to West- 
minster School, then presided over by Dr. Busby. 
His assiduity and talent gained for him a recom- 
mendation from Dr. Busby to Dr. Langbaine, provost 
of Queen's College, Oxford, by whom he was admitted 
on the foundation. He took the degree of B. A. in 
1653, and immediately after went to France as tutor 


zed by Google 


to a nobleman. In 1657 he took the degree of M.A., 
and was elected a fellow of his college. 

After the Restoration he was appointed Secre- 
tary, successively to Sir Edward Nicholas, and Lord 
Arlington, Secretaries of State, and was made Keeper 
of the State-Paper Office in Whitehall. In 1667 he 
was chosen a clerk of the Council in Ordinary, and 
received the honour of knighthood. He was one of 
the plenipotentiaries at the treaty of Cologne, acting 
with the Earl of Sunderland and Sir Leoline Jenkins. 
On the 27th June, 1674, he became Secretary of 
State, in the room of Lord Arlington, to whom, accord- 
ing to the custom of the time, he paid 6000/. for the 
office. It is a curious fact, that two of the Secretaries 
of State in the reign of Charles II., Sir Leoline Jen- 
kins and the subject of this memoir, had both been 
tutors. The former was of humble origin. It is 
reported of him, that when he rose to high office, he 
hung in his chamber the old pair of leathern breeches 
in which he first rode into Oxford, a poor scholar, to 
remind him of his former low estate^ 

Sir Joseph Williamson had a considerable share 
in establishing the London Gazette. This was origi- 
nally called the Oxford Gazette^ the first number 
being published Nov. 7, 1665, when Charles II. and 
the court were at Oxford. " But when the said Court 
removed to London, they were intituled and called 
the Ixmdon Gazette, the first of which that was pub- 
lished there, came forth on the 5th of February fol- 
lowing, the King being then at Whitehall. Mr. 
Joseph Williamson procured the writing of them for 
himself; and thereupon employed Charles Perrot, M. A. 

1 Diary of the Times of Charles IL, Vol. i. p. 306. 

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264 HISTORY OF [1675 — 85- 

and fellow of Oriel College in Oxon, who had a good 
command of his pen, to do that office under him, and 
so he did, though not constantly, to about 1671*." 

Sir Joseph Williamson was one of the first victims 
of the fear and excitement caused by the celebrated 
Popish plot. He was committed to the Tower by the 
House of Commons on the 18th November, 1678, on 
a charge of granting commissions to Popish officers, 
but was released by the King on the same day. On 
the 9th February following he resigned the Secretary- 
ship of State, and was succeeded by the Earl of Sun- 
derland. In December, 1679, he married the Baroness 
Clifton, widow of Henry Lord O'Brien, sister and 
sole heiress to Charles Stuart, Duke of Richmond, by 
whom he acquired large property, and the hereditary 
office of High-steward of Greenwich. Upon this mar- 
riage Evelyn remarks, "'Twas thought they lived 
not kindly after marriage, as they did before. She 
was much censured for marrying so meanly, being 
herself allied to the royal family." But Evelyn did 
not entertain a favourable opinion of Sir Joseph 
Williamson, as he calls him " Lord Arlington's crea- 
ture, and ungrateful enough." 

It is certain that he must have possessed consider- 
able talents for business and courtiership, to have 
risen from so humble a beginning to the important 
situation of Secretary of State. His influence, too, 
must have been great, otherwise he would hardly have 
been selected to fill the chair of the Royal Society. 
Although deeply occupied by public afiairs, he pre- 
sided at every Meeting of the Council, and generally 
at the ordinary Meetings, in the proceedings of which 

* Wood, Aihen, Oxon,^ Vol. 11. p. 


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1675 — 85.] THE HOYAL SOCIETY. 265 

he took much interest. He presented several curiosi- 
ties to the Museum, and a large screw-press for 
stamping diplomas. He died in 1701, and left 6000/., 
and a valuable collection of heraldic manuscripts and 
memoirs relating to his foreign negociations, to 
Queen's College, Oxford, and 5000/., for the purpose 
of founding a Mathematical School at Rochester, for 
which town he had frequently sat in Parliament. 

In a dedicatory epistle from Oldenburg to Sir 
Joseph Williamson, at the commencement of the ninth 
volume of the Philosophical Transactions^ Oldenburg 
says, '' Your merits raised you to that eminent place 
you are now possessed of; and you are full of steady 
inclinations to on all occasions advance the ingenuous 

Sir Joseph presented the Society with his portrait, 
painted by Sir G. Kneller. It is suspended in the 

In June, 1678, the Duke of Norfolk commenced 
pulling down Arundel House, which occasioned the 
Library presented by his Grace to the Society to be 
removed to Gresham College. 

The following Rules for its preservation and ma- 
nagement were drawn up by the Council. 

" Orders concerning the Government of the Biblio- 
theca norfolciana. 

" 1. That the long gallery in Gresham College be 
the place for the Library, if it may be procured. 

** 2. That an Inscription in letters of gold be set up 
in some convenient place, in honour of the benefactor. 

" 3. That there be an exact Catalogue of all th6 
Books of the Bibliotheca Norfolciana made apart ; and 
also of aU other books which shall accrue. 


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266 HISTOBY OF [1675 — 85. 

''4. That, for securing the Books and to hinder 
their beuig embezzled, no Book shall be lent out of the 
Library to any person whatsoever. 

'' 5. That such person or persons as shall desire to 
use any Book in the Library, shall return it into the 
hands of the Library-keeper, entire, and unhurt. 

"6. That the Library shall be surveyed once in the 
year, by a Committee chosen by the Ciouncil, to the num* 
ber of six, any three of which to be a quorum/' 

Dr. Gale was requested to prepare the form of 
inscription^ mentioned in the second clause of the 
preceding orders; and, at the ensuing Meeting of 
Council, he submitted one, which was approved, and 
ordered to be set up on a Tablet in the gallery, 
where the books were placed. It is remarkable that 
there is no record of the inscription in the archives 
of the Society. According to Maitland, it was as 
follows : — 


" ExeeUent%Bnmu$ Princeps Henricus Howard, Dux Norfolciw, 
Come9 Marechallus Anglian, Comes Arundelias, Suria, Norfolcie, 
et Norwici, &c. Heros^ propter FamilicB Antiqukatem^ Animi 
Dotes, Corporis Dignitatem, pern incomparahilis, Bihliotheeam hanc 
instructissimam {quoB hactenus Arundeliana appellabatur) R^ice 
Sodetati Dotw dedit, et perpetuo sacram esse voluit, 


Pro eximia erga se Liheralitate, Societas 

Regia Tabulam hanc devotw 

Mentis testem Jixit ; 

Prwside Josepho Williamson, 

JEquite Aurato, 


On the 30th November, 1678, Edmund Halley 
was elected a Fellow of the Society. He had just 

^ Maitland's London, p. 656, 


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1675 — SS.'i THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 267 

returned from his voyage to St. Helena, the principal 
object of which was to make astronomical obser* 
rations. The great result of the expedition remains 
in his Catalogus Stdlarum Atistralium ; but it is im- 
portant to remember that he had attentively studied 
the variation of the magnet, and made such observa- 
tions as materially assisted him in drawing up the 
remarkable papers upon magnetism, printed in the 
Transactions, which preceded his magnetic chart. 
These communications will come under notice in a 
subsequent part ,of this work*. 

"To Halley," says Sir John Herschel, "we owe 
the first appreciation of the real complexity of the 
subject of magnetism. It is wonderfiil indeed^ and a 
striking proof of the penetration and sagacity of this 
extraordinary man, that with his means of informa- 
tion he should have been able to draw such conclu- 
sions, and to take so large and comprehensive view of 
the subject, as he appears to have done*." 

Halley always evinced the greatest interest in the 
Society, and endeavoured by every means in his power 
to advance the objects for which it was founded. 
When he left England for the Continent, in 1680, he 
was furnished with letters of introduction to the 
eminent philosophers in Paris, of whose labours he 
gives some account in the following letter to Hooke^ 
It is dated Paris, January 15, 1680 — 1. 

**I got hither the 24th of last month, after the 
most unpleasant joiumey that you can imagine, having 

* It will be sufficient to state here, that Halley supposed the 
earth to be one large magnet, having four magnetical poles or 
points of attraction, two in each hemisphere. 8ee his Papers in 
the 180th and 195th number of the Tranmctiofu. 

« Art. Terr. Mag. Quar. Bev., Vol. lxvi. p. 277- 


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268 HISTORY OF [1675 — 85. 

been forty hours between Dover and Calais, with wind 

"The letter you were pleased to intrust me with, 
did me the kindness to introduce me into the acquaint- 
ance of MM. Justel and Toynard, with whom is the 
rendezvous of all curious and philosophical matters. 
The general talk of the virtuosi here is about the 
Comet, which now appears, but the cloudy weather has 
permitted to be but seldom observed : whatsoever shall 
be made publick about him here I shall take care to 
send you. Whilst I am here I shall be able to serve 
you in procuring you what books you shall desire that 
are to be purchased for money; but those that have 
been published by the Academy of Sciences, amongst 
which is the book of plants Sir John Hoskyns desires, 
will be much more difficult to come by. However, I 
have hopes to get them for the Society's Library, at 
least, to get a sight of them, so as to give you some 
account of what they contain. There is just now 
finished the book of Astronomical Voyages, but I have 
not gotten a sight thereof. But Mr. Cassini, who seems 
my friend, will, I hope, grant it me. If I can but get it 
in my own possession, I will make hard shift to copy 
the most material things^." 

A turret for astronomical purposes had been 
erected by the Gresham Committee, over the apart- 
ments of the Professor of Geometry, and Uooke 
availed himself of the facilities afforded him for carry- 
ing on several astronomical and meteorological obser- 
vations^ It was on this account that the instruments 

• Archives : Royal Society. 

7 ''The Monument on Fish Street Hill, built by Wren, and 
completed in 1677) was used by Hooke and other members of the 


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1675 — S5.1 THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 26Q 

lent to the Greenwich Observatory were recalled ; 
the removal took place in January, 1679, by order 
of the Council. Flamsteed Was evidently very much 
annoyed at this circumstance, as he talks of '' Hooke 
wresting the quadrant from him;" but it must be 
borne in mind, that the Society had received no 
account whatever of the progress of Flamsteed, at 
which the President expressed his surprise, and, more- 
over, the Society who had, as we have seen, but very 
little money to purchase philosophical apparatus, were 
really desirous to have the instruments restored to 
them for scientific purposes. At the same time, how- 
ever, that this order was issued, the Council directed 
a magnetical needle to be made at the cost of the 
Society, and lent to Flamsteed to make observations 
at Greenwich on variation®. 

In 1679 Hooke commenced publishing the Philo- 
sophical Collections^ which are generally regarded as 
constituting a portion of the Transactions. These 
had ceased to appear in 1678; and it was in conse- 
quence of the great desire expressed by philosophers 
for their revival, that Hooke undertook to publish 
the Collections. At a Meeting of Council, in February, 
1679, it was ;— 

"Besolved that Mr. Hooke be desired to pubUsh 

Royal Society for Astronomical purposes, but abandoned on account 
of the vibrations being too great for the nicety required in their 
observations." Elroes' Life of Wren^ p. 289. It is curious that this 
gave rise to the report that it was unsafe. Captain Smyth, in his 
Cycle of Celettial OljecUt^ tells us, that when taking observations on 
the summit of Pompey's pillar, the mercury was sensibly affected 
by tremor, although the pillar is a solid. 

^ It may interest the reader to know that the variation at the 
above period (1679) was between 4 and 4^ degrees west. 


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270 HISTORY OP [1675 — 85. 

(aB he declares he is now ready to do,) a sheet or two 
every fortnight, of such philosophical matters as he 
shall meet with from his correspondents ; not making 
use of any thing contained in the Register-books, with- 
out the leave of the Council and author," 

At another Meeting it was ; — 

"Resolved, that, in consideration of propositions 
made by Mr. Hooke for a more sedulous prosecution of 
the experiments for the service of the Society, and par- 
ticularly the drawing up into treatises several excellent 
things which he had formerly promised the world ; the 
Council, as an encouragement, according to the poor 
abilities of the Society, have agreed to adde forty pounds 
for this year, ending at Christmas, to Mr. Hooke's 

The Philosophical Collections^ which extend to 
seven numbers, comprise Papers by various indivi- 
duals, giving, in the words of the title-page, Accounts 
of Physical, Anatomical, Chymical, Mechanical, As- 
tronomical, Optical, and othet* Mathematical and 
Philosophical Eocperiments and Observations. 

The second and third numbers were printed in 
1681, and the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, in the 
early part of 1682. 

At the anniversary of the Society in 1680, Sir 
Joseph Williamson resigned, and the Hon. Robert 
Boyle was chosen President, but declined accepting 
office. The subjoined letter addressed to Hooke, 
makes it appear that he was actuated by conscientious 

" Sir, " Pall Mall, Dec. 18, 1680. 

" Though, since I last saw you, I met with 
a lawyer who has been a member of several Parlia- 


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1675 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 271 

ments, and found him of the same opinion ynth my 
Council in reference to the obligation to take the test 
and oaths you and I discoursed of; yet, not content 
with this, and hearing that an acquaintance of mine 
was come to town, whose eminent skill in the law had 
made him a judge, if he himself had not declined to be 
one, I desired his advice, (which, because he would not 
send me till he had perused the Society's Charter, I 
received not till late last night,) and by it I found, that 
he concurred in opinion with the two lawyers already 
mentioned, and would not have me venture upon the 
supposition of my being unconcerned in an act of par- 
liament, to whose breach such heavy penalties are 
annexed. His reasons I have not now time to tell you, 
but they are of such weight with me, who have a great 
(and perhaps peculiar) tenderness in point of oaths, that 
I must humbly beg the Boyal Society to proceed to 
a new election, and do so easy a thing as, among so 
many worthy persons that compose that illustrious com- 
pany, to choose a President that may be better quali- 
fied than I for so weighty an employment. You will 
oblige me, also, to assure them, that, though I cannot 
now receive the great honour they were pleased to 
design me, yet I have as much sense of it as if I 
actually ei\joyed all the advantages belongii^ to it. 
And, accordingly, though I must not serve them in 
the honorable capacity they were pleased to think of 
for me ; yet I hope that, God assisting, I shall not be 
an useless member of that learned Body, but shall mani-^ 
fest, in that capacity, both my zeal for their work, 
and my sense of their favours. This you will oblige 
me to represent in such a way as may persuade the 
virtuosi that you will discourse with, how concerned 
I am to retain the favourable opinion of persons that 


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272 HISTORY OF [1675 — 85. 

have so great a share in his esteem, who shall reckon: 
your good offices, on so important an occasion, among 
the welcomest favours you can ever do®, 

" Sir, 
" Your most affectionate Friend and humble Servant, 

"Ro. Boyle." 
Superscribed : 
*' TheM for my much respected friend^ 
Mr. H. Hooke, Professor 0/ Mathe- 
mcUics at Gresham College.'^ 

The effect of Boyle's declining to accept the office 
of President, was the election of Sir Christopher 
Wren, who was sworn in at the Council held on the 
12th January, 1680—1. 

The family of the Wrens, according to tradition 
of Danish origin, had been long and honourably dis- 
tinguished in England before the birth of this great 
architect. Sir Christopher was bom at East Knoyle, 
Wilts, on the 20th October, 1632. His father was chap- 
lain in ordinary to Charles I., and dean of Windsor, 
and his uncle (Dr. Matthew Wren) was successively 
Bishop of Hereford, Norwich, and Ely. All his bio- 
graphers describe him as a small and weakly child, 
whose rearing required much care. His precocity was 
surprising. In fact, it almost partakes of the mar- 
vellous, when we are told, that at the age of thirteen 
he invented an astronomical instrument (which he 
dedicated to his father in Latin rhyme), a pneumatic 
engine, and ** a peculiar instrument," says the author 
of Parentalia^\ "of use in Gnomonics, which he 

• Archives : Royal Society. 

'" The MS. of the Parentalia is in the Library of the Royal 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 273 

explained in a treatise entitled, Sdstericon Catholi-- 
cum.'* His mind rose early into maturity and strength. 
He loved classic lore; but mathematics and astro* 
nomy were from the first his favourite pursuits. 

It would be impossible, in a sketch like the pre* 
sent, to do more than glance briefly over the principal 
events in the life of Sir Christopher Wren, and hap- 
pily too many biographies of him exist, to render 
more than a rapid sketch necessary. 

In his fourteenth year he was admitted as a gen- 
tleman-commoner at Wadham College, Oxford, where, 
by his acquirements and inventions, he gained the 
friendship of Dr. Wilkins, Seth Ward (Bishop of 
Salisbury), Hooke (whom he assisted in his Micro- 
graphia)j and other scientific men, whose meetings 
laid the foundation of the Royal Society. 

Thus Wren may be said to have been one of the 
earliest members of the club of Philosophers. In 
1654 Evelyn visited Oxford, and went to All Souls', 
when he says, *' I saw that miracle of a youth, Chris- 
topher Wren." 

It deserves to be mentioned, that while Wren was 
at Oxford he ranked high in his knowledge of ana- 
tomical science. His abilities as a demonstrator, and 
his attainments in anatomy generally, are acknow- 
ledged with praise by Dr. Willis in his Treatise on 
the Brain^ for which Wren made all the drawings ; 
and he is allowed to have been the originator of the 
physiological experiment of injecting various liquors 
into the veins of living animals, which Sprat calls 
*' a noble experiment," exhibited at the Meetings at 

" Dr. Clarke, in a Paper "On Anatomical Inventions and Obser- 
VOL. I. T vations." 


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fi74 HISTORY OF [l680 — 85- 

In 1653 he was elected a fellow of All Souls\ 
and by the time that he had attained his twenty- 
fourth year his name had gone over Europe, and he 
was considered as one of that band of eminent men, 
whose discoveries were raising the fame of English 
science. Seldom, indeed, has the promise of youth 
been so well redeemed as in the case of Wren. 

In August, 1657, he was appointed Professor of 
Astronomy at Gresham College; three years later, 
Savilian Professor at Oxford, and received the degree 
of D, C. L. in September 1661. It was after deliver- 
ing his lecture on Astronomy at Gresham College, on 
the 28th November, 1660, that the foundation of a 
scientific society was discussed, and thQ great share 
he took in contributing to the success and reputation 
of the young Society is well known. Indeed, the 
archives of the Society bear the amplest testimony to 
his knowledge and industry, as exhibited in his com- 
mentaries on almost every subject connected with 
science and art. His inventions and discoveries alone 
4 are said to amount to fifty-three. 

It is not very clear at what period he first com- 
menced studying architecture : it was probably more 
owing to his general scientific reputation, that he was 
appointed in 1661 assistant to Sir John Denham, the 
surveyor-general, and was commissioned, in 1663, to 
survey and report upon St. Paul's cathedral, with a 
view to its restoration, or rather, the entire rebuild- 

Vations," published in the PhUosophieal Tramaetions for 1668, says. 
Circa ^nem anni 1656, aut circitery MeUhematieus tile intignis' 
simuBy D. D» C. Wren, primus infusionem variorum liguarum in 
massam tangtdneamk riventium animalium exeogitavit et Oaonii 
permit" p. 678. 

In the first Charter Wren is styled Doctor of Medicine. 


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1680 — 85.'\ THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 275 

ing of the body of the fabric, so as to reconcile it 
with the Corinthian colonnade of Inigo Jones. 

Meanwhile, his knowledge of architecture was 
increasing, and to improve it still more, he went to 
Paris in 1665, to study the principal buildings in that 

On his return, the great Fire decided the long- 
debated question, whether there should be a new 
Cathedral. What was calamitous in itself at the time, 
happened most opportunely for Wren. On the 2nd 
July, 1668, he was officially informed that the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of London and 
Oxfolrd, had resolved to have a Cathedral worthy of 
the reputation of the city, and the nation. It has 
been justly observed, that but for the Fire, Wren 
might have trifled away his genius, patching the old 
Cathedral, and perhaps adding a new wing to White- 

It is well known that Wren's original design for 
the Cathedral contemplated one order instead of 
two, and no side oratories, or aisles. The first stone 
of the present edifice was laid June 21, 1675; the 
choir was opened for divine service in December 
1697, and the last stone on the summit of the lantern 
was placed by the architect's son, Christopher, in 
1710". It is worthy of mention, that Wren's salary 
as architect was only 200/. a year, for which he drew 
all the designs, and was also at the expense of draw- 
ings and models of every part, the daily overseeing of 
the works, framing the estimates and contracts, and 
auditing the bills", not to mention, as the Duchess of 

** St. Petei^s bad twelve ^architects, and occupied one hundred 
and forty-five years in building. 

" A MS. in the Harleian collection states, that Wren entered 

rp 2 into 


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276 HISTORY OP [168O — 85. 

Marlborough says in a letter, '*his being dragged up 
in a basket three or four times a-week to the top of 
the building, at great hazard." His pay for rebuilding 
the churches in the City was only 100/. a year ; it is 
however related, that on the completion of the beau- 
tiful church of St. Stephen, Walbrook, the parish* 
loners presented his wife with twenty guineas ! 

His plan for rebuilding the city, had it been 
adopted, would have made it, as was said at the time, 
" the wonder of the world ;" but there were too many 
individual interests to be combated, and the project 
did not go beyond paper. 

One work, which would have probably not a 
little augmented his fame, was a design for a mag- 
nificent mausoleum to the memory of Charles I., yet 
though Parliament voted 70,000/. for the purpose 
in 1678, the design was abandoned, and the money 
applied more in accordance with the personal tastes 
of Charles XL 

Wren was thwarted in his ideas for the monu- 
ment commemorative of the Fire, which he designed 
in such a manner, that the shaft was to be adorned 
with gilt flames issuing from the loop-holes, but as 
no such pattern was to be found in the. ^ five orders,' 
the design was set aside for the pillar now on Fish- 
street Hill. 

Though, as we have seen. Wren's abilities and 
acquirements would have adorned, as they would 
have fitted him for, almost any profession, his life 
was mainly occupied by architectural pursuits: in 
fact, from the time that he was appointed architect 
to the city and St. Paul's, he had little time for any 

into the details connected with the great work, as examining a&* 
counts, agreeing for prices of workmanship, materials, &c. 


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1680 — SS."] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 277 

Other occupation. Mr. Cockerell, in his Tribute to 
the Memory of Wren^ enumerates forty public build- 
ings erected by that great man. 

It is surprising, therefore, to find his name occur- 
ring so frequently in the Journal and Council-books 
of the Royal Society, presiding at the Meetings, and 
proposing and taking part in experiments. He also 
sat for some years in Parliament. According to the 
manuscript list of the pedigrees of knights, preserved 
in the British Museum, Wren was knighted at White- 
hall on the 12th November, 1673. He was twice 
married ; first to the daughter of Sir Thomas Coghill, 
by whom he had one son, Christopher ; and afterwards, 
to a daughter of Lord Fitzwilliam, Baron of Lifford 
in Ireland, by whom he had a son and a daughter. 
After a long life spent, as his epitaph says, non sibi, 
sed bono publico, he retired in peace from the world 
to his home at Hampton Court, where the five remain- 
ing years of his existence were passed in repose, 
interrupted only by occasionally going to London, to 
superintend the repairs of Westminster Abbey, his 
only remaining public employment; for, to the dis- 
grace of the government of that day, he had been 
deprived of his office of surveyor in 1718. 

His death was as placid as the whole tenour of 
his existence. On the 25th of February, 1722 — 3, 
his servant found him dead in his chair. He had 
jslumbered softly to wake in eternity. An attempt 
was made to compensate the denial of earthly honours 
in his latter days by a splendid funeral. His remains 
were laid within his own cathedral, surmounted by 
the well-known and sublimely eloquent legend, Si 
Monumentum quceris, circum^pice. 

Many great men have shed lustre upon the 


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278 HISTORY OP [1680 — 85. 

chair of the Royal Society : few to a greater degree 
than Sir Christopher Wren. A remarkably fine 
portrait of him by Sir P. Lely, with St. Paul's in 
the back-ground, is in the meeting-room in Somerset 

In 1681, Dr. Grew published his curious book, 
under the patronage of the Society, and Daniel Col- 
wall, Esq., who defrayed the expense of the engrav- 
ings, entitled, MusoBum Regalis Sodetatis; or^ A 
Catalogue and Description of the Natural and Arti- 
ficial Rarities belonging to the Royal Society, and 
preserved at Gresham College; wh^ereunto is sub- 
joyned the Comparatim Anatomy of the Stomach and 
Guts. The work is a folio, comprising 435 pages, 
and 81 sheets of plates. It is dedicated to Daniel 
Colwall, Esq., founder of the Museum. In the dedi- 
cation. Dr. Grew hopes that the Royal Society " may 
always wear this Catalogue, as the miniature of Mr. 
Col wall's abundant respects, near their hearts;" and 
in another place, he says, '^Besides the particular 
regard you had to the Royal Society itself which 
seeming (in the opinion of some) to look a little pale, 
you intended, hereby, to put some fresh blood into 
their cheeks ; pouring out your box of oyntment, not 
in order to their burial, but their resurrection." 

The Catalogue is extremely curious, on account 
of the very quaint titles given to objects of natural 
history (now recognised by very different names), and 
the descriptions attached to them. 

The Museum contained at this period several 
thousand specimens of zoological subjects and foreign 
curiosities : among the contributors, amounting col- 
lectively to 83, are the names of Prince Rupert, 
Duke of Norfolk, Boyle, Evelyn, Hooke, Pepys, Lord 


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1680 — 85.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 279 

Brouncker, and the East India, and Royal African 

In the early part of 1682, Sir Christopher Wren, 
acting on' the authority given him by the Council, 
sold Chelsea College and the surrounding lands to 
the King, for the sum of 1300/.^ Small as this sum 
now appears, and was even at that period, for such 
an estate, yet the Council were so well pleased, that 
they voted their thanks to their President, " for the 
service rendered to the Society in thus disposing of 
a property which was a source of continual annoyance 
and trouble to them^." A long discussion arose con- 
cerning the best means of profitably investing the 
amount, which ended by a resolution to place it in 
the hands of the East India Company. 

Thus strengthened in funds, the Council turned 
their attention to the expediency of putting a stop to 
the too indiscriminate and easy admission of Fellows, 
and with this view, drew up the following statute, 
which, after being fully debated, was put to the vote, 
and passed on the 5th Aug. 1682 : — 

"Every person that would propose a Candidate, 
shall first give in his name to some of the Council, 

^^ We read in the Ck)uiicil-Minute8, that the College and 
lands "might have been well disposed of, but for the annoyance of 
Prince Rupert's glass-house which adjoined it." Sir Jonas Moore 
wrote to the Prince, at the request of the Council, urging him to 
"consider the Society, on account of the mischief that his glass- 
house was doing to the CoU^e," and this letter was supported 
by similar remonstrances from Sir R. Southwell and Mr. Pepys. 

^* The Royal Hospital was built upon the site of the College. 
The first stone was laid by the King, on the 16th February, 1681--2, 
and Sir C. Wren was appointed commissioner and architect in 


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280 HISTORY OF [168O — 85. 

that so in the next Council it may be discoiursed, vivd 
vocCy whether the person is known to be so qualified, 
as in probability to be useful to the Society. And if 
the Council return no other answer, but that they de- 
sire farther time to be acquainted with the gentleman 
proposed, the proposer is to take that for an answer : 
and if they are well assured that the Candidate may be 
useful to the Society, then the Candidate shall be pro- 
posed at the next Meeting of the Society, and ballotted 
for, according to the Statute in that behalf; and shall 
immediately sign the usual bond, and pay his admission- 
money upon his admission." 

At the same time it was resolved, ** That no person 
shall be capable of being chosen into the Council, who 
hath not, at or before the 10th day of November 
preceding the election, accounted with the Treasurer, 
and paid his dues to the Michaelmas before : and in 
order thereunto, the names of those who have not 
paid till the Michaelmas preceding, shall not be 
inserted in the printed lists for the use of the Society, 
at the election day." 

On the 13th December, 1682, it was "Ordered, 
that Dr. Grew take upon him the care of the Reposi- 
tory, under the name of Prw/ecttis Mtisei Regalis 
Sodetatis, &c., and that he make a short Catalogue of 
the Raritys, with a method for the ready finding them 
out : as also a Catalogue of the Benefactors, and the 
particulars given by them. That he enter into a 
book all such things as shall be given hereafter, with 
the name of the donor, and from time to time observe 
what may be necessary for the preservation and aug- 
mentation of the said Repository, and make a report 
thereof to the Councill. And that he bring in to the 
usual Meetings of the Society such descriptions of 


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1680 — 85.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 281 

naturall things there contained, as have not yet been 
published in his book." The Doctor readily accepted 
the office. 

At the anniversary in this year, Wren retired 
from the Presidency, and Evelyn was solicited to 
allow himself to be put in nomination as his successor, 
but declined ; he says in his Diary ^ under the date of 
November 30, 1682, "I was exceedingly indanger'd 
and importun'd to stand the election (for President of 
the Royal Society), having so many voices; but by 
favour of my friends, and regard of my remote dwell- 
ing, and now frequent infirmities, I desired their 
suffrages might be transferr'd to Sir John Hoskyns, 
one of the Masters of Chancery, a most learned 
virtuoso, as well as lawyer, who accordingly was 

Sir John Hoskyns, of Harewood, in the county 
of Hereford, Bart., was grandson of Judge Hoskyns, 
a noted poet and critic in the reign of James I., and 
son of Sir Bennet Hoskyns, by his first wife Anna 
Bingley, daughter of Sir John Bingley*^. He was bom 
in 1633, and received his early education from his 
mother, who taught him Latin ; ** meaning," as the 
manuscript memoir of him states, *' as 'tis supposed, 
that she familiarised that language to him in such a 
manner, as made the acquiring it the more easy. He 
was sent afterwards to Dinedor School, and from 
thence to Westminster, where he was scholar under 
Dr. Busby, from whom, 'tis most remarkable, he 
never received a blow." 

He entered as student of the Temple, and although 

w Vol. I. p. 512. 

1^ Jidan. Brit. Mu8. Sloane Collec. 4222. 


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282 HISTORY OP [l6S0 — S5. 

called to the bar, did not practise. He was, however, 
eminent for his legal attainments^ and esteemed for 
his invincible integrity in the discharge of official 
duties. He was appointed a Master in Chancery, 
which office he held until a year before his decease. 

But Sir John Hoskyns was much better known to 
the world as a philosopher than a lawyer, and espe- 
cially in the latter part of his life, when he devoted 
a considerable portion of his time to scientific pur- 
suits and experiments. His general knowledge is 
said to have been very considerable, and to have been 
imparted freely and cheerfully to all who applied to 
him for information. Granger observes, '' There was 
nothing at all promising in his appearance; he was 
hard favoured, affected plainness in his garb, walked 
the streets with' a cudgel in his hand, and an old hat 
over his eyes. He was often observed to be in a 
reverie, but when his spirits were elevated over a 
bottle, he was remarkable for his presence of mind 
and quickness of apprehension, and became the agree- 
able and instructive companion. He was an excellent 
Master in Chancery, and a man of an irreproachable 
character. He was more inclined to the study of the 
new philosophy, than to follow the law, and is best 
known to the world as a virtuoso*®." Le Neve says 
that " Hoskyns was much noted for his general know- 
ledge, and vigorous searching after natural philo- 

Sir John Hoskyns was one of those elected by the 
Council on the 20th May, 1663, by virtue of the 
power given them by the Charter. He acted as Vice- 

18 Bioff, Hut, of England, Vols. ii. and m. pp. 267 and 539. 
i» Mon, Angli, p. 202. 


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1680 — 85,] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 283 

President during the Presidency of Sir C. Wren, and 
we find him frequently occupying the chair, and at- 
tending the Council-Meetings. He married a daugh- 
ter of Sir Gabriel Lowe, of Gloucestershire, by whom 
he had several children. 

He represented the county of Hereford in Par- 
liament for many years, and died on the 12th Sep- 
tember, 1705. 

In January, 1683, the publication of the PhiUh 
sqphical Transactions was resumed, and the 143rd 
Number published under the editorship of Dr. Robert 
Plot, who had been chosen Secretary in place of 
Hooke". An explanatory Preface commences this 
number: — 

"Although the writing of these Transactions is not 
to be looked upon as the business of the Royal Society, 
yet, in regard they are a specimen of many things whicfi*^ 
lie before them, contain a great variety of useful mat- 
ter, are a convenient Register for the bringing in and 
preserving many experiments, which, not enough for a 
book, would else be lost, and have proved a very good 
ferment for the setting men of uncommon thoughts in 
all parts a-work; find because, moreover, the want of 
them for these four last years, wherein they have been 
discontinued, is much complained of; that the said 
Society may not seem now to condemn a work they 
have formerly encouraged, or to neglect the just ex- 
pectations of learned and ingenious men, they have 

«> The Council-Minutes record, that it was " ordered the Trea- 
suier should buy sixty coppys of the TransactumSy at the cur- 
rent price, for the use of the Society." Vol. ii. p. 24. The pub- 
lication of the Transactions ceased again for a temporary period 
in 1687. 


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284 HISTORY OF [l680 — 85. 

therefore thought fit to take care for the revival hereof, 
that they may be published once every month, or at 
such times whereof forenotice shall be given at the end 
of these and the following TranMCtions. Neither is it 
doubted, but that those who desire to be accommodated 
herewith, will most earnestly endeavour themselves, or 
by others, to supply and keep up that stock of expe- 
riments, and other philosophical matters, which will be 
necessary hereunto; with this assurance given them, 
that whatever they shall be pleased to communicate^ 
shall be disposed of with all fidelity." 

During the short Presidency of Sir John Hoskyns, 
who filled the chair at every Meeting, much activity 
prevailed, and numerous experiments in natural phi- 
losophy were performed. Those of Halley on mag- 
netism are extremely curious. His object in making 
them was to illustrate his favourite theory of four 
magnetic poles'*. At one of the Meetings, a great 
number of curiosities from China were presented by 
Captain Knox, which formed a valuable addition to 
the Museum. The description of some of these ** rari- 
ties," is not a little amusing. Thus we have " A true 
dolphin's skin caught by the captain, and stuffed, 
being very different from the porpess, which is com- 
monly here called and esteemed to be the dolphin." 

"A sprig of a shrub called Ki'Vong^ of strange 
virtue ; for being put into water, it driveth the crabs 
from it ; and being put to the mouth of the holes 
where they have burrowed themselves, they imme- 
diately run out, or are killed in their holes. And it 
is for that end used by the natives to catch them.'* 

« See Phil Trans,, Vol xn. p. 208. 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 285 

The whole list shows how little was known of foreign 
countries and their productions at that period. 

On November 30, 1683, Sir John Hoskyns resigned, 
and was succeeded in the chair by Sir Cyril Wyche. 
This gentleman was the second son of Sir Peter 
Wyche, and was bom at Constantinople, whilst his 
father was ambassador from the English government 
to the Porte". He was named after Cyril, the Patri- 
arch of Constantinople, distinguished for his literary 
attainments, who is said to have sent to England for 
a fount of types, to set up a Greek press at Con- 
stantinople, where a Greek translation of Jewell's 
Apology was printed. A short time after he was 
murdered by the Jesuits'". 

Sir Peter Wyche, the eldest son, and brother of 
the subject of this memoir, was one of the original 
Fellows of the Royal Society, and translated from a 
Portuguese Manuscript a short account of the river 
Nile, at the desire of the Society^. His attention 
was frequently directed to the extension of geographi- 
cal knowledge. His brother Cyril, who was also one 
of the early members of the Society, studied at Christ 
Church, Oxford, and became M.A. and LL.D. in 
1665. He sat frequently as parliamentary repre- 
sentative for Kellington, in Cornwall ; held the office 
of Secretary for Ireland, and took so active a part in 
the affairs of that country, as to be appointed one of 

** He was a great favourite of Sultan Amurath IV., who styles 
him in his letters to King Charles, '' the famous lord, whose end 
be happy." During his ambassadorship he contrived to get the duty 
taken off English cloth. 

« Fasti Oxon., Vol. xi. p. 163. 

« Published in 1669. 


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286 HISTOBY OP [l680 — 85. 

the Lords Justices in 1693. In 1692 he married the 
niece of Evelyn, who calls him ''a man of perfect 
integrity, and a noble and learned gentleman." He 
purchased the estate of Poyning's Manor, and other 
lands at Hockwold, in Norfolk, where he died Decem- 
ber 29, 1707. 

In April 1684, Dr. Denis Papin, who had fre- 
quently exhibited experiments before the Society, and 
was known as the inventor of the ** Bone-Digester*^," 
was appointed temporary Curator, with a salary of 
30/. per annum; in consideration of which he was 
required to produce an experiment at each Meeting 
of the Society. Evelyn, in his Diary^ gives an amusing 

^ Papin published, under the patronage of the Royal Society, 
an account of this Machine, which he entitled, A New Dtgetter^ 
or Engine for toftening Bones^ containing the degcription of Ue 
make and me in these partieulartj viz. Cookery^ Voyages at Seoy 
Con/eciionaryy making of Drinksy Chemistry^ and Dyeing^ with 
an account of the price a gcjod big Engine will cost, and of the 
profit it will afford. 4to. London, 1681. In 1687 he published a 
further description of the Machine with improyements, which were 
occasioned, as he states, by the King having commanded him 
to make a Digester for his Laboratory at Whitehall. The inven- 
tion appears to have excited a considerable degree of interest. In the 
Preface to the last-mentioned work, Papin says ; '' I will let people 
see the Machines try'd once a week, in Blackfriars, in Water Lane, 
at Mr. Boissonet's, over against the Blew Boot, every Monday at 
three of the clock in the afternoon ; but to avoid confusion and 
crouding in of unknown people, those that will do me the honour 
to come, are desired to bring along veith them a recommendation 
from any of the Members of the Royal Society." Subsequently, 
he adapted the piston of the common sucking-pump to a steam - 
machine, making it work in the cylinder, and applying steam as 
the agent to raise it. It is a curious fact, that, although Papin in- 
vented the safety-valve, he did not apply it to his steam-machine. 
We shall have occasion to alliide to his communications on the 
steam-engine in a subsequent part of this work. 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 287 

account of a supper prepared by Papin's Digesters, 
to which he was invited with other Fellows. 

** Went this aftemoone with severall of the R. S. to 
a supper, which was all dress'd, both fish and flesh, in 
M. Papin*8 Digesters^ by which the hardest bones of beef 
itselfe, and mutton, were made as soft as cheese, with- 
out water or other liquor, and with lesse than eight 
ounces of coales, producing an incredible quantity of 
gravy ; and, for close of all, a jelly made of the bones 
of beef, the best for clearness and good relish, and the 
most delicious that I have ever seen or tasted. We 
eat pike and other fish-bones, and all without impedi- 
ment : but nothing exceeded the pigeons, which tasted 
just as if bak^d in a pie : all these being stewed in 
their own juice, without any addition of water, save 
what swam about the Digester, as in balnea; the na- 
tural juice of all these provisions acting on the grosser 
substances, reduc'd the hardest bones to tendemesse. 
This philosophical supper caus'd much mirth amongst 
us, and exceedingly pleas'd all the company. I sent a 
glasse of the jelley to my wife, to the reproach of all 
that the ladies ever made of the best hartshorn^.'' 

At one of the Meetings of the Society, Dr. Papin 
exhibited several descriptions of jellies, made by his 
pneumatic engine, which he declared to have been 
prepared at one-third of the usual cost*^. From the 
period of Papin's engagement as Curator imtil 1687*, 
when he was appointed Professor of Mathematics in 
the University of Marburg, he was very zealous in 
providing *' entertainments'' for the Society. These 
principally consisted in Mechanical, Pneumatic, and 

^ VoL I. p. 509. 

^ See Register-book, Vol. vi. p. 20a 


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288 HISTORY OF [168O — 85. 

Hydrostatic experiments, an account of which will be 
found in the Philosophical Transactions^ and Register 
and Journal-books*^. 

His duties at Marburg did not prevent his occa- 
sionally sending philosophical communications to the 
Society, and to the Acta Eruditorum of Leipsic. It 
was in the latter work that the celebrated addition 
to his paper, on the use of gunpowder, communicated 
to the Royal Society in 1687, first appeared, in which 
he proposes to use steam as a moving power*". It 
is thus noticed in the Philosophical Transactions^ 
No. 226. 

"A method of draining mines where you have not the 
Gonveniency of a river to play the engine ; and, having 
touched upon the inconveniency of making a vacuum 
by gunpowder, the author proposes the alternately turn- 
ing a small surface of water into vapour, by fire applied 
to the bottom of the cylinder that contains it, which 
vapour forces up the plug in the cylinder to a consider- 
able height, and which, as the vapour condenses as the 
water cools when taken from the fire, descends again by 
the air's pressure, and is applied to raise the water out 
of the mine'"." 

This invention is highly creditable to Papin, and 
though much remained to perfect the engine, yet the 
philosophical principle is pointed out. The enormous 
strength required for his Digesters, and the means 
to which he was obliged to resort, for the purpose 
of confining the covers, must have early shewn him 

^ A complete account of these and other inventions hy Papin, 
will he found in his Eeeueil de divenet piicet touekant guelque$ 
nouvelUi Machines. 8vo. Casael, 1695. 

^ 1690, p. 410. 30 P. 482. 


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1680 — S5.'\ THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 289 

what a powerful agent he was using. It was while 
making many experiments for Boyle, that he dis- 
covered if vapour be prevented from rising, the water 
becomes hotter than the usual boiling point. . This led 
to the invention of his Digester'*. 

In 1684, the Society lost another of its original 
and valuable members, in the person of Dr. Croone'^ 
who died of a fever, on the 12th October, in that year. 
Besides contributing some important Papers to the 
Society on Anatomy, he left a plan of two lecture- 
ships which he designed to found ; one, to be read 
before the College of Physicians, with a sermon 
to be preached at the church of St. Mary-le-Bow ; 
the other, ta be delivered yearly before the Royal 
Society, upon the nature and laws of muscular motion. 
But, as his Will contained no provision whatever- for 
the endowment of these lectures, his widow, who sub- 
sequently married Sir Edwin Sadleir, Bart., carried 
out his intention by devising in her Will, dated Sept. 
25, 1701, that "one-fifth of the clear rent of the 
King's Head Tavern, in or near Old Fish-street, 
London, at the comer of Lambeth HilP, be vested 
in the Royal Society, for the support of a lecture 
and illustrative experiment, for the advancement of 
natural knowledge on local motion, or (conditionally) 
on such other subject as, in the opinion of the Presi- 
dent for the time being, should be most useful in 
promoting the objects for which the Royal Society 

^^ Papin presented one of his Digesters to the Society, with a 
Tery interesting letter descriptive of it. 

^ So his name is signed in the Charter-book, but it is still in his 
will Croune, Printed books have it Cron, Croun, Croone and Crone. 

^ This property was let on a lease of 99 years in 1786 for 15/. 
per annum ; consequently the Society's share amounts to 3/. 

VOL. I. U 


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290 HISTORY OF [168O — 85 

wafl instituted"." Although prospectively, I may re- 
mark here, that the College of Physicians made a 
proposition to the Society, in 1739, to "get rid of 
Lady Sa(^leir's donation;" hut the Council were of 
opinion that the transfer could not be legally made. 
The first lecture was read in 1738 by Dr. Stuart, 
the subject being " on the Motion of the Heart ;" and 
it was the custom, for many years afterwards, for the 
authors to read their papers to the Society. It has 
been well observed, in the report above quoted, that 
"this lecture, as founded by the relict of the first 
Register to the Royal Society in 1660, before its in- 
corporation, while it consisted only of the few, but 
illustrious, names of Brouncker, Boyle, Wilkins, Petty, 
Wren, Evelyn, Wallis, Oldenburg, and other successors 
of Lord Bacon, who met weekly in Gresham College, 
may be regarded as being coeval with the Society's 
first formation and establishment; and cannot fail 
at the present day to be considered as one of its most 
valuable foimdations." 

It will not be uninteresting to notice here, the 
impetus which the study of Geology received in 1683 
and 1684, by the labours of Dr. Martin Lister, and 
the gift from Lord Clarendon, of a " large parcell of 
oares from New England." Dr. Lister's Paper is ex- 
tremely curious. It is entitled, ^n Ingeniow Pro^ 
posed far a new sort qf Maps of Country s^ together 
with Tables of Sands and Clays. The Paper which 
was laid before the Society in March, 1683 — 4, is pub- 
lished in the 14th volume of the Transactions. 

The author commences : " We shall be better able 
to judge of the make of the earth, and of many phe^ 

Report on Medals of Royal Society, p. 43. 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 291 

nomena belonging thereto^ when we have well and 
duely examined it^ as far as human art can possibly 
reach, beginning from the outside downwards. As 
for the most inward and central parts thereof, I think 
we shall never be able to conftite Gilbert's opi- 
nion, who will, not without reason, have it altogether 

The annexed extract of a letter from Mr. Aston 
to Dr. Plot at Oxford, gives some further account of 
Dr. Lister's ideas. It is dated London, March 13, 

"I received from Mr. Lister two schemes of the 
lands and clays found in England, made by himself 
about twenty years since. He mentioned besides the 
great advantage of a map of the earths peculiar to 
some places and counties ; he considers the sands and 
clays as two of the coats of the earth ; the sand, pro- 
bably, the uppermost coat, (for some reasons he gives), 
whence it comes to be washt to the body of rivers and 
the sea-shore. By this opinion I perceive may be given 
an account of sand-beds, too often attributed to the 

Dr. Lister's scheme for a Map of England, distin- 
guishing the soils and their boundaries by colours, has 
certainly the merit of priority. "He was the first," 
says Mr. Lyell in his Geology^ " who was aware of the 
continuity over large districts, of the principal groups 
of strata in the British series, and wlio proposed the 
construction of regular geological maps'^." 

3* De Magni. Lib. i. cap. 17. Tdlua %n interioribus partihut 
moffnetieam homogeniea^ naturam habet, 
» Ashmolean MSS. No. 1813. 
^ Vol. I. p. 45, third edition. 



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292 HISTORY OF [168O — 85. 

At the anniversary in 1684, Sir Cyril Wyche 
resigned the Presidency, and Samuel Pepys, Esq. was 
elected his successor. During the last few years, as 
we have seen, the Society were extremely active and 
diligent in procuring information on all matters re- 
lating to philosophy. The Meetings were continued 
with great regularity, and we have a description of 
one, in the following extract from a letter written 
by Sir Thomas Molyneux, Bart., F.R.S., to his brother 
Mr. William Molyneux at Dublin**. The letter is 
dated May 26, 1683. 

•*The 23rd being Wednesday, I was at Gresham 
College; there I saw the Bibliotheca Korfolcktiana^ ; 
afterwards I went to the Bepository, and viewed the 
rarities of that place, which do very much increase, 
there being new additions daily made. The Royal 
Society meeting together whilst I was in the house, by 
the favour of Mr. Haak and Dr. Green I was admitted 
to sit among them; the ceremony observed at their 
meeting is this : The President, one Sir John Hoskins, 
sits in a chair at the upper end of a table, with a 
cushion before him; the Secretary, Mr. Aston, a very 
ingenious man, at the side, on his left hand ; he reads 
the heads one after another to be debated and dis- 
coursed of at the present Meeting ; as also, whatever 
letters, experiments, or informations, have been sent 
in since their last Meeting ; of all which, as they are 
read, the Fellows which sit round the room, spake their 
sentiments, and give their opinions, if they think fit^ 
ting ; and of the chief matters discussed at this time was 
the cause of the inundation of the Nile. When this is 

38 Published in Duh. Univ. Mag. 1841. 
^ Sir Thomas means Norfoleiana. 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 293. 

over, if any of the company have made experiments, or 
have had particular information concerning any thing 
worthy the notice of the Society, they then make it 
known. At this convention, it happened that young 
Mr. Halley, the astronomer, made some magnetical ex- 
periments, in order for the laying down of an hypothesis 
to solve the variation of the needle in several parts of 
the world : they thanked him for them, and desired 
him to set down his notions in writing, which I believe 
you will have in some of their following Transactions, 

** His hypothesis runs all upon the supposition, that 
there are four magnetical poles in the four quarters of 
the earth, which he proves by observations made by 
himself and others in long voyages. I had a great deal 
of discoturse with him. He asked me for you, and 
whether you went on in your astronomical studies ; he 
told me that he had heard some of the R. S. say, that 
wood turned into stone by Lough Neagh had a mag- 
netical virtue : this I would have you try, and let me 
know your success in your next. At this meeting 
I had the opportunity of seeing several noted men, 
as Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Hooke, Mr. Isaac Newton, Dr. Tyson, 
Dr. Slare, &c. Round the room was hung the pictures 
of these men : Lord Brouncker, Bishop WilkinSi Gunter 
the mathematician, Signor Malpigi, sent by himself from 
Italy, and Mr. Hobbs. Over the chimney stood their 
own Arms." 

In another letter, Sir T. Molyneux gives some 
account of distinguished Fellows of the Society, whose 
acquaintance he had made. ''Dr. Green," he says, 
"is a very civil, obliging person; Hooke, the most 
ill-natured, conceited man in the world, hated and 
despised by most of the Royal Society, pretending to 
have all other inventions, when once discovered by 


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their authors to the world ; Dr. Tyson, a most under- 
standing anatomist ; Dr. Croone, and Dr. Slare, both 
extraordinary, civil, and ingenious men; the first a 
very exact observer of the weather, in whose study I 
saw several thermometers, hugroscopes, and baru- 
scopes." Sir T. Molyneux appears to have been a keen 
observer; his letters are full of interesting matter, 
collected during his travels in England and on the 
Continent. But we must revert to the Society and 
their new President, a memoir of whom will be found 
in the next Chapter. 


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Memoir of Samuel Pepys — ^Establishment of the Dublin Philoso- 
phical Sodety— Their Rules— Auxiliary to Royal Society 

Mr. Aston resigns the Secretaiyship — New Office created 

Appointment of Halley as Clerk — His Duties — ^Attempt to 
establish a PhilosophicaJ Society at Cambridge— Newton's Let- 
ter on the subject — ^Death of Charles II. — ^His indifference to 
the Society — Sends reoeipi £Dr curing Hydrophobia— Manu^ 
script of Principia presrated to Society — Halley's Letter 
respecting it — Council order it to be printed — Halley under- 
takes its publication — Correspondence with Newton — Fac- 
simile of Title-page — Pepys resigns — Lord Carbery chosen 
President — Memoir of him — Hooke proposes to deUyer a 
weekly Lecture— The Society in debt — Obliged \o pay for 
Apartments in Gresham College— Professors kt their Rooms — 
Scientific Business— Lord Carbery resigns — Lord Pembroke 
elected President. 


SAMUEL PEPYS was bom on the 23rd February, 
1631 — 2, of a family which, he honestly acknow- 
ledges, "had never been very considerable." His 
father, John Pepys, was a citizen of London, where 
he followed the trade of a tailor. It appears, by his 
Diary, that Pepys passed his early days in or near 
the metropolis, and was educated at St. Paul's School; 
he remained there till 1660, early in which year 
his name occurs as a sizar on the books of Trinity 
College, Cambridge. Before he took up his residence 
at that University, he had removed to Magdalen Col- 
lege. There is no evidence to show how long he 
remained at Cambridge, nor what were his academical 
pursuits. In October, 1655, when only twenty-three 
years of age, he married Elizabeth St. Michel, a girl 


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296 HISTORY OF [1680 — S5. 

of fifteen, whose father is described as having been of 
a good family, and whose mother was a descendant of 
the Cliffords of Cumberland. The young couple were 
kindly noticed by Sir Edward Montagu, afterwards 
Earl of Sandwich, who received them into his house ; 
to this gentleman Pepys was indebted for his subse- 
quent advancement. In 1658 he accompanied Sir 
Edward in his expedition to the Sound, and, on his 
return, became a clerk in the Exchequer. About this 
period he commenced his celebrated and interesting 
Diary. In 1660 he was appointed Clerk of the Acts 
of the Navy, which commenced his connexion with a 
great national establishment, to which his diligence 
and acuteness were afterwards of the highest service. 
It is recorded, that when the metropolis was nearly 
deserted on account of the Plague, the whole manage- 
ment of the navy devolved on him, and he remained 
at his post, regardless of the danger which sur- 
rounded him. In a letter to Sir W. Coventry at this 
period, he observes, " The sickness in general thickens 
round us. You, Sir, took your turn at the sword ; I 
must not, therefore, grudge to take mine at the pesti- 
lence." During the awful Fire in London he also 
rendered most essential service. 

The Duke of York being Lord High Admiral^ 
Pepyfe was by degrees drawn into close personal con- 
nexion with him^ and as he enjoyed his good opinion, 
had also the misfortune to experience some part of 
the calumnies with which the Admiral was loaded 
during the time of the Popish Plot, The absence of 
evidence did not prevent his being thrown into the 
Tower (May, 1679), on the charge of instigating and 
abetting, and he was for a time removed from the 
Navy Board. His liberation took place in February 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 297 

Ibllowing, and soon after he was fortunate in attract- 
ing the favourable notice of the King, who made him 
Secretary to the Admiralty. He filled this office 
during the remainder of Charles II.'s reign, and the 
whole of that of his successor. 

Upon the accession of William and Mary, Pepys 
lost his official employments, and the electors of Har- 
wich, unmindful of his having served them in Par- 
liament, refused to return him to the convention. 
He retired consequently into private life, and was 
desirous of passing the remainder of his days in the 
enjoyment of scientific and literary society, for which 
his various acquirements peculiarly qualified him. But 
his enemies, actuated by malice, caused him to be com- 
mitted to the Gatehouse in 1690, on pretence of his 
being afibcted to King James ; he was soon permitted, 
however, on account of ill health, to return to his own 
house, where he resided until 1700. In that year his 
physicians persuaded him to retire, for the sake of 
change of air and repose, to the seat of his old fi'iend 
and servant, William Hewer, at Clapham, where he 
expired, after a lingering illness. May 26, 1703. 

Pepys was a very remarkable man. Of his official 
life it could not be said, 

Jnitia ma^istratnum nottrorum meliora etjirmajinis incUnat; 

for the same zeal and energy which marked his 
entrance into office was conspicuous throughout the 
whole of his career. In fact, his skill and experience 
in naval affairs could not be dispensed with by Govern- 
ment ; and for many years the whole management of 
the Admiralty was borne by him. 

Yet, amidst all his official business, surrounded 
by political intrigues and court dissipation, he con- 
trived to find time for scientific and literary pursuits. 


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298 HISTOEY OF [1680 — 85, 

He was one of the earliest Fellows of the Royal So- 
ciety, having been elected in 1 663, from which period, 
until within a very few years of his death, his name 
frequently occurs in the Council and Joumal'-books. 

At the anniversary in 1667, he says, in his Diary ^ 
''I was near being chosen of the Council, but am glad 
I was not, for I could not have attended, though 
above all things I could wish it ; and do take it as a 
mighty respect, having been named." Shortly after, 
he was elected into the Council, on which he often 
served, and, as we have seen, was chosen President in 
1684, on account of his high literary attainments, and 
probably his court-influence. " After he resigned the 
Presidency, he was in the habit of entertaining the 
most distinguished Fellows, on Saturday evenings, 
at his house in York Buildings, where they assembled 
for the discussion of literary subjects, and the encou- 
ragement of the liberal arts. To the dissolution of 
these meetings, occasioned by the increasing infirmities 
of their founder, Evelyn adverts in his letters, in 
terms of the strongest regret ; nor could a person of 
his enlightened mind fail to derive the most heartfelt 
gratification from witnessing so many of his con- 
temporaries eagerly devoting the small portion of 
their lives that remained to the cultivation of science, 
and the acquirement of useful knowledge \" 

Pepys was a munificent patron of literature. To 
Magdalen College, Cambridge, he left an invaluable 
collection of naval memoirs. "These," says Lord 
Braybrooke, '' he had obtained at immense cost, for 
the general history of the Nafxdia of England, which 
he had promised to the public ; but age and ill health 

Life, prefixed to Pepy's Diary^ p. 44. 

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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 299 

intervening, he was deprived of the vigour and oppor- 
tunities requisite for completing the work." Besides 
these memoirs he left to the same college a large col- 
lection of prints and ancient English poetry, amongst 
which are five large folio volumes of English ballads. 
He contributed sixty plates to Willughby's His-- 
toria Pisdum*, and presented the Royal Society with 
50/. the year after he was elected President. Indeed, 
nearly all his leisure time appears to have been occu- 
pied by scientific and literary pursuits. He felt the 
force of the words, 

Otium sine Uteris mors esty et heminis vm septdtura; 

and, had his health' been better, he would, in all pro- 
bability, have been a more diligent labourer. 

A fine portrait of him, by Kneller, is in the Meet- 
ing-room of the Society. 

In 1684, a Society, consisting of about twenty 
individuals, was established in DublinS whose objects 

^ Thus alluded to in the work : — Amplissimus Vir D, Samuel 
PepySy Sodetads Begice Prceses^ ingenuarum Artium et Emdito^ 
rum fautor et patronus eximiuSy qui operi Ulustrando exomari^ 
doque Icones plurimas ad Tahulas usque sexaginta^ privatis impensis 
et propria asre sculptas, raro magni/icentias exemplo largitus est. 
The book is dedicated to Pepys. 

^ He appears never to have recovered from the disease of stone, 
for which he underwent an operation in early life ; he was in the 
habit of celebrating the anniversary of this event with religious 
gratitude to Providence. 

^ It appears by the ^' Life of Sir Thomas Mol3meuz," in the Dub- 
lin University Magazine, before quoted, that his brother William 
originated this Society. In a letter written by the latter to 
his brother, dated Dublin, Oct. 30, 1683, N.S., he says, '' I have 
also here promoted the rudiments of a Society for wliich I havo 
drawn up Rules, and called it Canventio PAHosopkiea. About half- 
a-score or a doaien of us have met about twelve or fifteen times, and 


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300 HISTORY OF [168O — 85. 

were similar to those of the Royal Society. Indeed, 
it may be regarded as an auxiliary of the latter, to 
which it regularly transmitted copies of its Minutes 
and Philosophical Communications ; these were read 
at the ordinary Meetings of the Royal Society, and 
are preserved amongst its archives. 

The following Advertisements^ as they are called, 
were drawn up for the Society by Sir William Petty, 
who was elected President* : — 

" 1. That they chiefly apply themselves to the 
making of experiments, and prefer the same to the 
best discourses, letters, and books, they can make or 
read, even concerning experiments. 

" 2. That they doe not contemne and neglect com- 
mon, triviall, and cheap experiments and observations. 

"3. That they provide themselves with rules of 
number, weight, and measure ; not only how to measure 
the plus and minus of the qualitys and schemes of 
matter; but to provide themselves with scales and 
tables, whereby to measure and compute such qualitys 
and schemes in their exact proportions. 

" 4. That they divide and analyze complicate mat- 
ters into their integrall parts, and compute the propor- 
tions which one part bears to another. 

" 5. That they be ready with instruments and other 

we have very regular discourses, concerning philosophical, medical, 
and mathematical matters. Our Convention is regulated by one 
chief, who is chosen by the votes of the rest, and is called Arbiter 
Conventianisy at present Dr. Willughby, (the name president being 
yet a little too great for us). What this may come to, I know not ; 
but we have hopes of bringing it to a more settled Society." 

^ He had been frequently on the Council of the Royal Society : 
at this time he was devoting considerable attention to the improve-* 
ment of his estates in Ireland, and the promotion of trade. 


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1680 — 85.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 301 

apparatus, to make such observations as doe rarely offer 

themselves, and doe depend upon taking opportunities. 

" 6. That they provide themselves with Correspond- 
ents in severall places, to make such observations as doe 
depend upon the comparison of many experiments, and 
not upon single and solitary remarks. 

" 7. That they be ready to entertain strangers and 
persons of quality with great and surprizing experiments 
of wonder and ostentation. 

"8. That they carefully compute their ability to 
defray the charge of ordinary experiments fforty times 
per annum, out of their weekly contributions, and to 
procure the assistance of Benefactors for what shall be 
extraordinary, and not pester the Society with useless 
or troublesome Members for the lucre of their pecuniary 

" 9. That whoever makes experiments at the pub- 
lick charge, doe first ask leave for the same. 

" 10. That persons (tho' not of the Society) may 
be assisted by the Society to make experiments at their 
charge, upon leave granted. 

" 11. That for want of experiments, there shall be a 
review and rehearsall of experiments formerly made*." 

It was the custom, as we learn, of some of the 
members, including Sir William Petty, the Bishop of 
Ferns, and Dr. Willughby, to meet every Sunday- 
evening to discourse upon theology ; and, in the words 
of Dr. Huntington's letter to Dr. Plot, " endeavour to 

^ Sir W. Petty also drew up ^' a Catalogue of mean, vulgar, 
cheap, and simple experiments" for the Dublin Society — ^it is printed 
in the 168th number of the Phil. Trans. ; he always took great 
interest in the Society, up to the period of his death (which occurred 
in 1687). 


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302 HISTORY OF [1685 — 90. 

establish religion, and confute atheism, by reason, evi- 
dence, and demonstration." 

The Royal Society hailed the establishment of the 
Dublin Society with great pleasure, and directed their 
Secretary to write, tendering their assistance towards 
promoting the objects of the new Association^ 

Several letters passed between Mr. William Moly- 
neux and Halley, in which the philosophical labours 
of the two Societies were detailed. In a communi- 
cation from the former to the latter, written in 1686, 
he says : — 

**I thank you exceedingly for your philosophical 
communications, and your kind promise of the continu- 
ance of them. I wish I may in any wise be able to 
make you suitable returns, but that I must despair of 
yet ; I promise you, however, that nothing shall happen 
here worth your notice, which I shall not timely com- 
municate. You may have heard of a girl in this town, 
strangely overgrown with excrescences, vastly numerous 
and very large ; my next shall bring you the sketches of 
her, as well as my rude hand can draw them." 

In the latter part of 1685 a change was made in 
the official constitution of the Society, occasioned by 
Mr. Aston's resigning his office of Secretary, to which 
he had been re-elected on the 30th November in the 
same year. By a letter from Halley to Mr. William 
Molyneux, dated London, March 27, 1686, it appears 
that Mr. Aston threw up the Secretaryship in so sud- 
den and violent a manner, that the Council resolved 

^ About the close of 1684 the Dublin Society numbered 33 
Members. The Council of the Royal Society passed a resolution, 
that all Members of the Dublin Society, who were FeUows of the 
Koyal Society, should only pay half the usual amount of subscription. 


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1685 — 90.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 303 

not to run the risk of being similarly treated on any 
future occasion, and determined on having an officer 
more immediately under their command. Bailey's let- 
ter will better explain the circumstances of the case: — 
'* The history of our affairs is briefly this. On St. 
Andrew's day last, being our anniversary day of election, 
Mr. Pepys was continued President, Mr, Aston, Secre- 
tary, and Dr. Tancred Bobinson chosen in the room of 
Mr. Musgrave ; every body seemed satisfied, and no dis- 
content appeared anywhere, when on a sudden Mr. Aston, 
as I suppose willing to gain better terms of reward from 
the Society than formerly, on December 9th, in Council, 
declared that he would not serve them as Secretary; 
and therefore desired them to provide some other to 
supply that office; and that after such a passionate 
manner, that I fear he has lost several of his friends by 
it. The Council, resolved not to be so served for the 
future, thought it expedient to have only Honorary 
Secretaries, and a Clerk or Amanuensis, upon whom the 
whole burthen of the business shoidd Ue ; and to give 
hint a fixt salary, so as to make it worth his while ; and 
he to be accountable to the Secretaries for the perform- 
ance of his office ; and on January 27th last, they chose 
me for their under-officer, with a promise of a salary of 
fifty pounds per annum at least"." 

Halley was not elected without opposition. The 
candidates for the new office were, Dr. Papin, Dr. 
Sloane, Mr. Salisbury, and Mr. Halley. The number 
of Fellows present amounted to 38. Dr. Sloane had 
10 votes, Dr. Papin 8, Mr. Salisbury 4, and Mr. 
Halley 16; but the majority of the members present 
being requisite to an election, the ballot was repeated, 

* Supp. to Letter-books, Vol. iv. p. 330. 


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304 HISTORY OF [1685 — 90. 

^vhen Dr. Sloane had 9 votes, Dr. Papin 6, and Mr. 
Halley 23. Previous to Halley's election, the follow- 
ing resolutions were agreed to by the Council, respect- 
ing the new office : — 

"1. If a Fellow of the Society be chosen into the 
office of Clerk, he shall, before his admission to his office, 
resign his Fellowship. 

"2. If any person other than a Fellow shall be 
chosen Clerk, he shall be incapable of being chosen a 
Fellow while he holdeth the office of Clerk. 

*' 3. That he shall have no other employment. 

<'4. That he shall constantly lodge in the College 
where the Society meeteth. 

**5. That he shall be a single man without chil- 

" 6. That he shall obey all orders from the Presi- 
dent, Council, or Secretaries. 

** 7. That he shall be master of the English, French, 
and Latin tongues. 

" 8. That he shall be able to write a fair and legible 

'' 9. That he shall be completely seen in the Mathe- 
matics and Experimental Philosophy. 

'' 10. That all letters of philosophical correspondence 
shall be signed by one of the Secretaries, and not by the 

"11. That the Clerk shall be accountable to the 
Council for the performance of his office, as it shall be 
from time to time appointed to him. 

" 12. That his salary for copying, entering, and the 
performance of all other parts of his office, shall be after 
the rate of 501. per annum at least ; he being found as 
above, and performing his duty to the satisfaction of the 


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1685—90.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 305 

"Thb duty of the Clerk. 

" 1. He shall take the Minutes of the Society in a 
book, and not on loose papers. 

'^ 2. He shall draw up the Minutes at large against 
the next Meeting. 

'^3. He shall enter the Minutes, after they have 
been read at the board, in the Journal-books. 

" 4. He shall draw up all letters, and bring them to 
be signed by the Secretaries. 

" 5. He shall index the books of the Society. 

'' 6. He shall keep a Catalogue of all gifts to the 

Sir John Hoskyns and Dr. Thomas Gale were 
elected Secretaries iu place of Mr. Aston and Dr. 
Robinson, and it was "Ordered, that Mr. Aston be 
presented with a gratuity of £60, and Mr. Musgrave, 
who had held the office of second Secretary from 
1684 to 1685, with a piece of plate of 60 oz., with the 
thanks of the Society, and their Arms upon it.'* 

An attempt was made, during this year, to esta- 
blish a Philosophical Society at Cambridge, which 
was to co-operate with the Royal Society. The an- 
nexed letter, from Sir Isaac Newton, will best explain 
the cause of the plan being abandoned. It is addressed 
to Mr. Aston. 

" Cambridge, Feb. 23, 1684 — 6. 
" The designe of a Philosophical Meeting here, Mr. 
Paget, when last with us, pusht forward, and I concurred 
with him, and engaged Dr. More to be of it ; and others 
were spoke to partly by me, partly by Mr. Charles Mon- 
tague ; but that which chiefly dasht the business, was the 
want of persons willing to try experiments, he whom we 
chiefly rely'd on refusing to concern himself in that 
VOL. I. X 


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306 HISTORY OF [l685 — ^90. 

kind. And more what to add further about this business 
I know not ; but only this, that I should be very ready 
to concur with any persons for promoting such a designe, 
8o far as I can do it without engaging the loss of my 
own time in those things"." 

This affords evidence that the spirit of philosophic 
inquiry had been awakened by the labours of the 
energetic band at Gresham College; who held on 
their course undaunted by difficulties sufficient to 
damp the ardour of any one less warm in the noble 
cause in which they were engaged. 

The year 1685 was marked by the death of 
Charles the Second, whose name will ever be honour- 
ably associated with the Royal Society, as its founder 
and earliest patron ^^ During the latter years of this 
Monarch's reign, court intrigues and pleasures so 
entirely engrossed his time and attention, that in all 
probability the Royal Society, in all its struggles to 
advance science, was scarcely ever thought of. The 
only record contained in the archives of the Society, 
of any communication between the Fellows and the 
King, during a period of several years previously to 
his decease, consists in his having ordered Sir Robert 
Gourdon, F. R. S., to send the Society a recipe to 
cure hydrophobia, invented by his physician Thomas 

» Letter-book, Vol. x. p. 28. 
w " If," says Dr. Sprat, " the first Monarchs deserved a sacred 
remembrance for one natural or mechanical invention, your Majesty 
(alluding to Charles II.) will certainly obtain Immortal Fame, for 
having established a perpetual succession of Inventors." Ded. of 
Hist, of Royal Society to Charles II. 

" This recipe is so curiously illustrative of the times, that I 
extract it from the Archives of the Society : " Agrimony roots, 


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1685 — ^90.] TUE KOYAL SOCIETY. 307 

Thus neglected by the Sovereign, and occupied in 
pursuits so totally at variance with those of the 
Court, it will not be very surprising that the decease 
of Charles the Second is not alluded to in the Coun- 
cil or Journal-books. The King died on the 6th of 
February, 1684 — 5, and the Society met as usual on 
the 9th of the same month; the Minutes contain 
no reference to the Monarch's death, and they are 
equally silent respecting any endeavours to gain the 
patronage of his successor, James the Second. 

At the ordinary Meeting on the 28th April, 1686, 
Dr. Vincent presented the Society with the MS. of 
the first book of Newton's immortal work, entitled, 
PhUosophioB Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which 
the illustrious author dedicated to the Society. It 
was ^ ordered that a letter of thanks be written to 
Mr, Newton, and that the printing of his book be 
referred to the consideration of the Council ; and that 
in the mean time, the book be put into the hands of 
Mr. Halley, to make a report thereof to the Council." 
On the 19th May following, the Society resolved, that 
"Mr. Newton's Philosophiw Naturalis Principia 
Mathemaiica, be printed forthwith in quarto, in a 
fair letter; and that a letter be written to him to 

primrose roots, dragon roots, single peony roots, the leaves of box, 
of each a handfuU ; the starr of the earth two handfulls, the black 
of crab's claw prepared, Venice treacle, of each one ounce : all these 
are to be bruised together, and boyled in a gallon of milk, till the 
half be boyled away; then put it into a bottle unstrained, and 
give of it about three or four spoonfulb at a time, three mornings 
together, before new or fuU-moon." Sir Hans Sloane sent a spe- 
gimeii of the plant called ^^Starre of the Earth" to Ray, who 
pronounced it to be the Sesamoides Salamanticum magnum^ of 
Clusius, and that it was found in abundance upon Newmarket- 
heath. See Ray's Phil, etters, p. 209. 



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308 HISTORY OF [l685 — 90. 

signify the Society's resolution, and to desire his opi- 
nion as to the volume, cuts," &c Halley, accordingly, 
wrote to Newton". 

" Landony May 22, 1686. 
" Sir, 

'' Your incomparable treatise intitled. Phi" 

losopht<B NcOuralis Prindpia Maihematiea, was by Dr. 
Vincent presented to the Royal Society on the 28th 
past ; and they were so very sensible of the great honour 
you have done them by your dedication, that they im- 
mediately ordered you their most hearty thanks, and 
that the Council should be summoned to consider about 
the printing thereof. But by reason of the President's 
attendance upon the King, and the absence of our Vice- 
Presidents, whom the good weather has drawn out of 
town, there has not since been any authentic Council to 
resolve what to do in the matter ; so that on Wednesday 
last, the Society in their meeting judging that so excel- 
lent a work ought not to have its publication any longer 
delayed, resolved to print it at their own charge in a 
large quarto of a fair letter ; and that this their resolu- 
tion should be signified to you, and your opinion thereon 
be desired, that so it might be gone about with all 
speed. I am instructed to look after the printing of 
it, and will take care that it shall be performed as well 
as possible. Only I would first have your directions in 
what you shall think necessary for the embellishing 
thereof, and particularly whether you think it not better, 
that the schemes should be inlarged, which is the opinion 
of some here ; but what you signify as your desire shall 
be punctually observed. 

" There is one thing more that I ought to inform 

" Sapp. to Letter-Looks, Vol. iv. p. 340. 

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1685 — ^90.] THE HOYAL SOCIETY- 309 

you of, viz. that Mr. Hooke has some pretensions upon 
the invention of the rule of decrease of gravity being reci- 
procally as the squares of the distances from the center. 
He says, you had the notion from him, though he owns 
the demonstration of the curves generated thereby, to 
be wholly your own. How much of this is so, you know 
best ; as likewise what you have to do in this matter. 
Only Mr. Hooke seems to expect you should make some 
mention of him in the Preface, which, it is possible, you 
may see reason to prefix. I must beg pardon that it is I, 
that send you this ungrateful account ; but I thought it 
my duty to let you know it, that so you might act accord- 
ingly, being in myself fully satisfied that nothing but 
the greatest candour imaginable is to be expected from 
a person who has of all men the least need to borrow 

"I am, &c., 

" E. Halley." 

The Council met on the 2nd June, when it was 
ordered that *^ Mr. Newton's book be printed, and that 
Mr. Halley undertake the business of looking after it, 
and printing it at his own charge ; which he engaged 
to do." The latter part of this resolution, which is at 
variance with the decision of the Society at their 
Meeting on the 19th May, is only to be explained by 
the fact, that the Council, — who were much better 
informed of the state of the Society's finances than the 
Society generally, — were aware that the publication 
of Willughby's De Historia Fiscium had exhausted 

^ It is not the province of this work to enter into the claims 
of Hooke. The reader who is anxious to do so, is referred to the 
article Hooke, General Dictionary^ Vol. vn. ; to Brewster's Life 
of Newton; Whewell's History of the Inductive ScienceSyYoLu,; 
and Rigaud's JSseay on the FirH Publication of the Prindpia. 


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310 HISTORY OF [l685 — 90. 

their finances to such an extent, that the salaries 
even of their officers were in arrears". Bearing this 
in mind, it is difficult to conceive how the Council 
could have entered with prudence on any fresh printing 
expenses during this year. Mr. Rigaud, in his Essay 
on the First Pvblication of the Prindpia^ most justly 
remarks, that ''under these circumstances, it is hardly 
possible to form a sufficient estimate of the immense 
obligation which the world owes in this respect to 
Halley, without whose great zeal, able management, 
unwearied perseverance, scientific attainments, and 
disinterested generosity, the PHndpia might never 
have been published"." When Newton was apprised 
of Hooke's claims, he conceived the intention of sup- 
pressing the third book of the Principia, as the fol- 
lowing extract of a letter to Halley, dated Cambridge, 
June 20, 1686, explains : — " The proof you sent me 
I like very well. I designed the whole to consist of 
three books; the second was finished last summer. 

^^ It 18 recorded in the Minutes of Council, that the arrears 
of salary due to Hooke and Halley were resolved to be paid by 
copies of Willughby's work. Halley appears to have assented to 
this unusual proposition, but Hooke wisely ^Mesired six months' 
time to consider of the acceptance of such payment." 

The publication of the HuUnia PUcium^ in an edition of 500 
copies, cost the Society 400/. It is worthy of remark, as illustra- 
tive of the small sale scientific books met with in England at this 
period, that a considerable time after the publication of TVillughby's 
work, Halley was ordered by the Council to endeavour to effect a 
sale of several copies with a bookseller at Amsterdam, as appears 
in a letter from Halley requesting Boyle, then at Rotterdam, to 
do all in his power to give publicity to the book. When the 
Society resolved on- Halley's undertaking to measure a degree of 
the earth, it was voted that ^' he be given 60/., or fifty books of 

" P. 35. 


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1685 — 90.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 311 

being short, and only wants transcribing, and drawing 
the cuts fairly. Some new Propositions I have since 
thought on, which I can as well let alone. The third 
wants the theory of Comets. In autumn last, I spent 
two months in calculations to no purpose, for want of 
a good method, which made me afterwards return 
to the first book, and enlarge it with divers Proposi- 
tions, some relating to comets, others to other things, 
found out last winter. The third, I now design to 
suppress. Philosophy is such an impertinently litigi- 
ous lady, that a man had as good be engaged in law- 
suits, as have to do with her. I found it so formerly, 
and now I am no sooner come near her again, but 
she gives me warning. The two first books without 
the third, will not so well bear the title of FhUoso- 
phioe Naturalis Prindpia Mathematical and there- 
fore I have altered it to this, De Motu Corporum 
Libri duo: but, upon second thoughts, I retain the 
former title. Twill help the sale of the book, which 
I ought not to diminish now 'tis yours^^ The articles 
are, with the largest, to be called by that name ; if 
you please, you may change the word to Sections^ 
though it be not material. In the first page I have 
struck out the words uti posthac doceUtur^ as refer- 
ring to the third book'^" 

^^ At this period, London publishers were extremely averse to 
tindertake the printing of mathematical books. Collins, in a letter 
to Newton says, '^ our Latin booksellers have no vent for mathe^ 
matical works; and so, when such a copy is offered, instead of 
rewarding the author, they rather expect a dowry vrith the trea- 
tise." It is recorded that the Royal Society gave 5/. with the 
copy of Horrox's Opera Posthuma^ to encourage a bookseUer to 
print it. 

^7 Archives : Royal Society. 


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312 HISTOEY OF [l685 — 90. 

In consequence of Halley's arguments and intrea- 
ties, Newton was eventually prevailed on not to sup- 
press the third book, which, under the title of De 
Systemate MunA% was presented to the Society on 
the 6th April, 1687. One of Halley's arguments to 
induce Newton to give this book to the world, was 
'^the application of your mathematical doctrine to 
the theory of Comets, and several curious experiments, 
which, as I guess by what you write, ought to compose 
it, will undoubtedly render it acceptable to those who 
will call themselves Philosophers without mathe- 
matics, which are much the greater number"." It 
will be remembered, that Newton himself talks in 
the Prindpia of having drawn it up Tnethodo popu- 
larly and such was probably his primary intention; 
but, as Professor Bigaud remarks, '' the value of the 
change was an ample compensation for the diminished 
number of readers, who, in consequence, would be 
likely to study it." 

The entire work was probably finished at the 
close of 1686 ; for Pemberton says, " this treatise was 
composed by Newton in the space of a year and a 
half 'V At a Meeting of the Council on the 30th 
June, 1686, the President was ordered to "license 
Mr. Newton's book, entitled PhilosophicB Naturalis 
Prindpia MatheTnatica, and dedicated to the So- 
ciety;" and the impinmatur, signed by Pepys, is dated 
the 5th of July following. In the Minutes of the 
Oxford Philosophical Society, is recorded, imder the 
date of May 20, 1687 :— "Mr. President (Dr. Wallis) 
was pleased to communicate a letter from Mr. Halley, 

18 Halley to Newton, in Archives : Royal Society, 
w View of Newton's Phil. 


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1685—90.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 813 

which gives an account of Mr. Newton's book, De 
Systemate Mundi^ now in the press**." The PHn- 
cipia was pablished about the middle of IGST, Haltev 
prefixing to it a set of Latin hexameters in praise of 
the illustrious author. When it is remembered that 
the volume contains 64 sheets, and above 100 dia- 
grams cut in wood, besides an engraving on copper, 
it is wonderful that Halley should have performed his 
laborious task so well, and in so short a space of time. 
Indeed his zeal outstripped that of Newton, for, in a 
letter from the latter to Halley, preserved in the 
archives of the Royal Society, he says, " Pray, take 
your own time ; if you meet with any thing which 
you think needs either correcting, or further explain- 
ing, be pleased to signify it to me;'* and adds, "I 
wish the printer be careful to mend all you note." 
It will not be out of place to state that the number 
of copies printed of the first edition is not known. 
Professor Rigaud supposes it to have been small, 
and adduces as a proo^ that in 1692, when the 
reputation of the work was established, Huyghens, 
who was anxious for a second edition, was of opinion 
that " 200 exeinplaires svffiroimt'' 

According to Sir William Browne, the price of a 
copy of the first edition did not exceed twelve shil- 
lings*^ The second edition was so soon exhausted 
by purchases in England, that it was reprinted by a 
company of booksellers at Amsterdam. The third 
edition appeared in 1726, under the care of Dr, Henry 

«> The title-page of the Principia attests that it was published 
jtuiu (but not sumptihus) Societatis BeguB. 
21 Nichols's Lit. Anec,, Vol. lu. p. 322. 


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The Prindpia contains the dedication to the 
Royal Society ; a brief preface ; verses by Halley in 
honour of Newton; definitions, axioms ; a short book 
on unresisted motion, a second on resisted motion, 
and a third on the system of the universe. Halley 's 
verses were somewhat altered by Bentley in the 
second edition, but the original readings were very 
nearly restored in the third. Newton wrote a short 
preface for each of the editions, and Cotes one of con- 
siderable length for the second. The dates of the New- 
tonian prefaces are. May 8, 1686 ; and March 28, 1713. 

The manuscript of this immortal work, entirely 
written by Newton's own hand, is in admirable pre- 
servation, and is justly esteemed the most precious 
scientific treasure in the possession of the Royal 
Society. A fac-simile of the title is annexed, which, 
as will be observed, was first written De MotUy and 
subsequently altered to PhilosopMce Naturalis Prin- 
dpia Mathematica. 

At the anniversary in 1686, Pepys resigned the 
office of President, and was succeeded by John, Earl 
of Carbery. 

This nobleman was descended from one of the 
most considerable families in Wales; powerful — ac- 
cording to tradition — before the Norman Conquest, 
and remarkable in later times for many worthy per- 
sons, conspicuous for their talents and their high 
employments, and connected with literary history at 
several points. 

The first nobleman was John, son of Walter 
Vaughan, of the Golden Grove, in Caermarthenshire, 
who was created Lord Vaughan of Mullingar, by 
James I., and aflerwards by Charles I., Earl Carbery. 
His son Richard, the second Earl, having adhered to 


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the Royal cause in the time of the civil war, was 
rewarded by Charles L with an English peerage, 
under the title of Baron Vaughan of Emlyn; and, 
after the Restoration, he was constituted Lord Presi- 
dent of the Principality. 

John, his son by his second wife, and third Earl 
of Carbery, was Governor of Jamaica for some years ; 
he passed the greater part of his life in retirement, 
and but very little of him appears to be known. 
Dedications are treacherous evidence, and must be 
received with caution. We are, however, told by 
Beaumont, who dedicated his Treatise on Spirits and 
Apparitions to Lord Carbery, that his "Lordship's 
great genius to a contemplative life, which raises 
himian nature to an excellency above itself, and 
highly influences the economy of this world, has natu- 
rally induced him to dedicate his book to his Lord- 
ship." This work was published in 1705, eight 
years before Lord Carbery's decease, which took place 
in his house at Chelsea, January 16, 1712 — 13, at 
the age of 73. His Countess was daughter of George 
Savile, Marquis of Halifax. With him the title be- 
came extinct, as he left only a daughter, who married 
the Marquis of Winchester. There are two engraved 
portraits of Lord Carbery extant, after paintings by 

In the early part of 1687, the Society received a 
proposition from Hooke, offering to deliver a discourse, 
illustrated by one or two experiments, weekly, pro- 
vided his salary was increased to 100/. per annum. 
The Council-minutes record that the proposition '' was 
much debated, and it was concluded that Mr. Hooke 
should have 50/. a year from the Society, and their 
lawful assistance and recommendations towards the 


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318 HISTORY OF [l685 — 90. 

recovery of the 60/. a year, which Sir John Cutler 
stands obliged to pay him during his life ; and that in 
consideration thereof, Mr. Hooke should at every Meet- 
ing produce one or two new experiments, together 
with a discourse concerning them in writing, to be 
lefl with the Societie, and that the said experiments 
should proceed in a naturall method." It does not 
appear that Hooke was satisfied with this determina- 
tion of the Council, for although he continued to make 
scientific communications to the Society, yet there is 
no record of his delivering an experimental lecture 

The debts of the Society weighed so heavily upon 
their finances, that in all probability the Council were 
unable to accede to Hooke 's proposition. At a Meet* 
ing in 1687, they record in their Minutes, "It appear* 
ing to this Councill that the debts of the Societie are 
such, that they cannot otherwise be satisfied, it is 
ordered that their stock in the East India Company 
be sold." 

Circumstances, however, occurred, which fortu- 
nately prevented this sacrifice, though the Society 
still continued to suffer considerable pecuniary em* 
harassment. Their difficulties were increased in 1688, 
by the necessity to rent apartments in Gresham Col- 
lege. At a Council, held on the 20th June, 1688, it 
was " Ordered, that Mr. Perry and E. Halley do make 
a conclusive bargain with Mr. Wells, the Divinity 
Professour, for his lodgings in Gresham College;" 
and again at the next Meeting on the 11th July, 
*'the Council were pleased to signifie their consent 
to the agreement made with Mr. Wells for his lodg- 
ings, viz. that they will give him 22/. per ann., to 
enter at Michaelmas next." It was also resolved 


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1685 — 90.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 319 

to give Hooke 10/. a year for the use of his rooms J 
which sum he received to the period of his decease. 

In a scarce volume, entitled. Extracts from the 
Records of the City qf LondoUy with other docum&iits 
respecting the Royal Exchange and the Gresham 
Trtists^ it appears that a Sub-committee of the Joint 
Gresham Committee was appointed in 1697, "to en- 
quire into the manner in which the Professors' lodg- 
ings were used and occupied;" when it was found 
that the majority, instead of living in their rooms, as 
was intended by Sir T. Gresham, had let them to 
other parties. "The Physick lodgings," says the 
Report, "have been let by Dr. Woodward and his 
predecessor to one Mr. Styles, a merchant, for ten 
years or more; and the said Mr. Styles, his two 
nieces and two servants, are now in the said lodgings, 
and Dr. Woodward has converted his kitchen into 
lodging rooms for his own use, but he seldom lodges 
in the College"." 

During the period that the Earl of Carbery occu- 
pied the chair, a great number of valuable inventions 
were brought forward, and experiments made by 
Hooke, Halley, and Papin. The latter frequently 
exhibited his Pneumatic Ttibe^ which propelled a 
leaden ball of two ounces with considerable force. 
An account of this instrument will be found in the 
16th Volume of the Transactions^ under the title 
Shooting hy the Rar^a^tion of the Air. Several pen- 
dulum and magnetical experiments were made; and 
a large telescope was erected in the quadrangle of 
the College, which was much used by Hooke. 

Dr. Sloane frequently sent communications to the 

« r. 123. 


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Society on botanical subjects, accompanied by speci- 
mens of the plants^. In 1688, a very interesting set 
of maps was laid before the Society by Dr. Cox, 
showing the lakes in North America, which had been 
surveyed for the first time by Englishmen, who, as was 
said, strongly recommended the immediate establish- 
ment of hunting and trading companies, which, they 
were certain, would reap immediate and great profit, 
as the quantity of beavers and other animals, that they 
had seen, was immense. A Committee was specially 
appointed to take this subject into consideration. 

At the Anniversary in 1689, the Earl of Carbery 
retired from the chair, and the Earl of Pembroke was 
chosen President. 

^ At one of tbe Meetings he exhibited " Irish sea- weed called 
DiUefky which he stated the Irish who were afflicted by scurvy 
were in the habit of chewing/' 


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Memoir of Lord Pembroke — Anxiety to continue the Trantae^ 
/um# — Evelyn again solicited to become President — Declines 
—Election of Sir R. Southwell — Memoir of him — ^Advertise- 
ment to Transactiaru — Uninterrupted publication since 1691— 
Death of Boyle — Eulogium on him — Leaves his Minerals 
to Society — His great respect for the Society — He deposits 
sealed packets — Huyghens's Aerial Telescope-glasses — Sir R. 
Southwell retires from the Chair — Charles Montague elected — 
Memoir of him — Dr. Woodward's Geological Works — His 
Scientific Labours in the Society — Accused of insulting Sir 
Hans Sloane— Expelled the Council — Institutes legal proceed^ 
ings — Is defeated — Resignation of Mr. Montague — ^Election of 
Lord Somers as President. 


THOMAS, eighth Earl of Pembroke, and fifth of 
Montgomery, succeeded his only brother Philip, 
who died without male issue, in 1683. He enjoyed 
the honours of the family for nearly fifty years, and 
held various high offices in the State, being appointed 
President of the Council ; in 1708 Lord High Admiral ; 
and, on the demise of Queen Anne, one of the Lord's 
Justices, until the arrival of George I. from Hanover, 
at whose coronation he carried the sword called 
Courtana. He was also a Knight of the Garter. 
He was more devoted to the arts and archaeological 
pursuits than to natural science. He formed the 
celebrated cabinet of Coins and Medals, and collected 
the Marbles at Wilton. Both in his political charac- 
ter, and relation to the intellectual progress of the 
country, he was one of the most eminent and valuable 
persons of his age, and a distinguished member of the 
house of Herbert, to whom literature, from its dawn 
VOL. I. Y 


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322 HISTORY OP [l685 — 90. 

in England, owes so many obligations. Lord Pem- 
broke was three times married : in 1 684 to Margaret, 
only daughter and heir of Sir Robert Sawyer, of High 
Cleer in the county of Southampton, Attorney-General 
in the time of Charles 11. By this lady he had twelve 
children. His second wife was Barbara, daughter of 
Sir Thomas Slingsby of Scriven, Yorkshire, by whom 
he had one daughter ; and his third, Mary, sister of 
Viscount Howe. He was elected a Fellow of the 
Society May 13, 1685, chosen into the Council Feb- 
ruary 16, 1686 — 7, and appointed a Vice-President 
April 13, 1687. He seldom attended the Meetings, 
but made communications on mechanical subjects to 
the Society, which created considerable interest. He 
died on the 22nd January, 1732 — 3. The present 
Earl of Pembroke and Caernarvon is lineally descended 
from this nobleman. 

That Lord Pembroke gave little attention to the 
Society is &irly deducible from the fact, that his name 
does not appear as presiding, on any one occasion, at the 
Council or ordinary Meetings. His place was generally 
occupied by Sir John Hoskyns, one of the Vice-Pre- 
sidents, or by Sir Cyril Wyche. The most important 
event in 1689 is the effort made to republish the 
Transactions^ which were frequently asked for by the 
public. At a Meeting of the Council, on the 22nd 
October, 1690, it was " Ordered, that Mr. Hooke have 
the postage of all letters of Philosophical Correspond- 
ence allowed him, on condition thai he publish 
Transactions^ or Collections^ as formerly, and that in 
consideration thereof the Society will take off 60 
books." Hooke agreed to this proposition, but nothing 
further was done in the matter until Sir Robert 
Southwell became President 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

1685—90.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 323 

On the retirement of Lord Pembroke from office, a 
general wish once more prevailed to elect Evelyn 
to the chair. In his Diary he writes, that he was 
^' chosen President in the first instance, but desired 
to decline it, and with great difficulty devolv'd the 
election on Sir R. Southwell, Secretary of State to 
King William, in Ireland." 

Sir Robert Southwell was descended from a very 
ancient and distinguished family, who took their name 
from the town of Suelle, or Southwell, in Nottingham- 
shire, the chief place of their residence, from the reign 
of Henry III. to that of Henry VI. The descendants 
of the elder branch passed over to Kinsale in Ireland, 
which town was held by Sir Robert Southwell, as well 
as the estate of King's Weston, in Gloucestershire. 

The subject of this memoir was born at Kinsale, 
in 1635. He was educated at Queen's College, Ox- 
ford, and afterwards entered at Lincoln's Inn. On 
the completion of his law studies he travelled on the 
Continent. On the 27th September, 1664, he was 
sworn one of the clerks of the Privy Council ; and 
on the 20th November, 1665, received the honour of 
knighthoods He was employed on several diplomatic 
missions : first as Envoy to mediate a peace between 
Spain and Portugal, in which he was successful. In 
1672 he was sent as Envoy Extraordinary to Portugal, 
and afterwards, in the same capacity, to Flanders, and 
to the Elector of Brandenburg at Berlin, visiting the 
Prince of Orange on his way. After his return in 
1681, he retired from public business to his seat at 
King's Weston. The accession of King William 
brought him again into the world. His Majesty ap- 

* Wood, A then. Oxan.j Vol. n. p. 879. 



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324 HISTORY OF [1690 — 95. 

pointed him principal Secretary of State for Ireland, 
to which country Sir Robert accompanied the King« 
in the expedition of 1690. He served in three par- 
liaments, and died at King's Weston in 1702, aged 
66. He was buried in the beautiful church of Hen- 
bury. His abilities, improved by a critical knowledge 
in polite literature, qualified him eminently for the 
various offices which he held. His letters are written 
in a most masterly style, exhibiting great thought, 
perspicuity, and penetration. He contributed several 
Papers to the Transactions^ mostly on physiological 
and chemical subjects; and appears to have been 
more attached to literature and science than to poli- 
tics. His name stands honorably associated with 
Dampier, who he patronised, and to whom he even ad- 
vanced money to equip his ships. In a letter to Mr. 
Sidney, dated from King's Weston, published in the 
Diary and Con^espondence of Charles 11.^ Sir Robert 
says, ** I am neither in office, nor dare desire it ; but am 
resolved to pass my life between Virgil's Georgics and 
Mr. Evelyn On Trees. ^^ Evelyn calls him "a sober, 
wise, and virtuous gentleman ;" and one of his bio- 
graphers says, " It is not then to be wondered, if, 
when his course was ended, and he was called to 
receive the reward of his piety, his death was greatly 
lamented, his memory held in the highest veneration, 
and his example esteemed by all his friends and rela- 
tions as a most complete pattern for imitation." 

Such was the individual who presided over the 
Society for five years. A portrait of him, by Kneller, 
is preserved in the Meeting-room. 

Soon after the election of Sir R. Southwell, we 
find him urging the expediency of resuming the pub- 
lication of the Transactions. 


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1690 — 95.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 325 

At a meeting of the Council on the 28th January, 
1690 — 1, at which fifteen Members were present, it 
was "Resolved, that there shall be Transactions 
printed, and that the Society will consider of the 
means for effectually doing it. And Dr. Tyson, Dr. 
Slare, Mr. Waller, and Mr. Hooke, were desired to be 
assistants to E. Halley, in compiling and drawing up 
the Transactions'' It was further "Ordered, that 
Mr. Boyle be desired to continue his designe of com- 
municating his small tracts, to be published in the 

In consequence of this decision, measures were 
taken to collect Papers for publication ; and in Febru- 
ary, the 192nd number, for January and February, 
1690 — 1, was published under the editorship of Hal- 
ley. The following advertisement is prefixed. 

"The publication of these Transtictians having for 
some time past been suspended, chiefly by reason that 
the unsettled postiu*e of publick afiairs did divert the 
thoughts of the curious towards matters of more im- 
mediate concern, than are Physical or Mathematical 
enquiries, such as for the most part are the subjects 
we treat of, with exclusion to many others wherewith 
the forein journalists usually supply their monthly tracts : 
These are now to advertise that, for the future, the 
Royal Society has commanded them to be published as 
formerly, and, if possible, monthly. And all lovers of 
so good a work are desired to contribute their dis- 
coveries in art or nature, addressing them, as formerly, 
to Mr. H. Hunt, at Gresham College, and they shall be 
inserted herein, according as the Authors shall direct." 

The succeeding numbers of the Transactions were 
published under the ostensible editorship of Mr» 


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326 HISTORY OF [1690—95, 

Richard Waller, Secretary to the Society; and on the 
15th February, 1692 — 3, the Council-minutes state it 
was " Resolved, that Dr. Plot shall print the Trans- 
dctions^ and that, for his encouragement therein, he 
have the 60 books agreed by the bookseller to be 
allowed for the copy, and that the Society will make 
up to the Dr. what the value of the said books shall fall 
short of 40/. per annum, and they will take the said 
sixty books as for money, and allow him 12 of each 
sort to present to his chief correspondents : to which 
the Dr. agreed." Mr Halley, however, still continued 
to afford considerable assistance, in supplying Papers, 
and occasionally superintending the publication of the 
Transactions^ until he departed on his voyage to the 
southern hemisphere, in 1 698. At a meeting of the 
Council on the 7th December, 1692, he undertook to 
" furnish de propria five sheets in twenty." 

The Preface to the Transactions for 1693 bears so 
much upon the scientific progress and labours of the 
Society, and, at the same time, so curiously exempli- 
fies the general state of science at that period, as to 
give it general interest : — 

Preface to the XVII. Volume of Transactions. 

**8o many and so large steps having been made 
towards the discovery of Nature by the indefatigable 
industry of this last Age, it may seem as if the subject 
were almost exhausted, and Nature herself wearied with 
the Courtships of so many Pretenders : But if, on the 
other side, we consider the vast, not to say boundless, 
extent of the Universe, and that the discovery of one 
PhaBnomenon leads to, as well as entices to, the search 
after another : together with how easie a thing it is even 
to impose upon ourselves groundless Opinions, instead 


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1690 — 95.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 327 

of Real Knowledge; we must own the work at least 
great enough for the Age of the World, and sooner 
doubt our own Resolutions and abilities, than fear the 
failure of fit Subjects to entertain our Thoughts. Real 
Knowledge is a nice thing; and as no man can be 
said to be master of that which he cannot teach to 
another, so neither can the mind itself, at least as to 
physical matters, be allowed to apprehend that, whereof 
it has not in some sense a Mechanical Conception ; for 
this knowledge entering wholly by the senses, whose 
objects only are bodies, whereof their Organs have the 
perception, but from the Magnitude, Figure, Situation, 
and Motion of them, which are all mechanically to be 
considered, or we come short of a Satisfactory Infor- 
mation, it follows, that Number, Weight, and Measure, 
must be applied to analize the Problems of Nature by 
which they were compounded. 

" This has been the Employment of the Experiment- 
ing part of mankind, and the design of that Glorious 
Institution of the Royal Society, whose youthful vigour 
carried them warmly on in the pursuit of Nature, then 
at a farther distance off, catch't and grasp'd the Proteus 
thro' all its changes. And, since Publications of this 
Nature have been thought no small advancement to that 
great Design, because it collects and preserves several 
small Tracts, which otherwise might possibly be lost, 
the Publisher has yielded to the sollicitation of some 
friends to undertake this Work, with an engagement to 
the learned, of communicating (as constantly as hath 
ever been at any time practised) whatever of a Philo- 
sophical Nature shall come to his hands, clearing the 
Royal Society (which is no way concerned therein) from 
aU the miscarriages he may possibly commit; and 
promises himself he shall never fail of materials from 

Dig^zed by VjOOQIC 


HISTORY OP [1690 — 93. 

the ingenious, since he proposes neither the mean end 
of private advantage, nor thinks himself capable of the 
BASENESS, to stifle any person's discovery till another 
may pretend to it ; being resolved immediately to insert 
in the next Transaction what ingenious Communications 
shall be so desired, that the true Author may not be 
defrauded of his due Merit and Glory." 

From this period (1691) to the present, the publi- 
catiou of the Transactions has continued uninterrupt- 
edly year by year. It may have been owing to the 
additional impetus given by the re-appearance of the 
Transactions, that the Society acquired a consider- 
able accession of Members during the years immedi- 
ately following this event. Prior to 1691, the average 
number of Fellows elected annually was only 6, but 
in subsequent years the average rose to 18. The 
consequence of this increase was a corresponding aug- 
mentation of funds, amounting, on the 30th November, 
1 697, to 250/. in the stock of the East India Company, 
and 800/. in that of the African Company. 

The year 1691 was marked by a melancholy event, 
the death of Boyle, which occurred on the 31st of 
December. By his decease the Society lost a most 
sincere friend, one who ever manifested an interest in 
its welfare, not surpassed, if indeed equalled, by any 
other member. 

Boyle died at the age of 65; his tomb is in 
St. Martin's Church, Westminster. In addition to his 
expenditure to promote science, his charities were so 
munificent as to exceed 1000/. a year. Of his merits 
as an inquirer into nature, Dr. Boerhaave, after 
declaring Lord Bacon to be the father of experimental 
philosophy, observes: "Mr. Boyle, the ornament of 
tiis age and country, succeeded to the genius and 


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1690 — 95.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 329 

inquiries of the great Chancellor Verulam. Which of 
Mr. Boyle's writings shall I recommend ? All of them. 
To him we owe the secrets of fire, air, water, animals, 
vegetables, fossils; so that from his works may be 
deduced the whole system of natural knowledge*." 
This may now seem extravagant praise, but, taking 
all circumstances into consideration, it may be re- 
garded as a just tribute to extraordinary merit and 
indefatigable perseverance. 

The following is an extract from his Will, made a 
few months before his death : 

** Item : to the Royal and learned Society, for the 
advancement of experimental knowledge, wont to meet 
at Gresham College, I give and bequeath all my raw and 
unprepared minerals, as ores, marchasites, earths, stones, 
(excepting jewels), &c., to be kept amongst their col- 
lections of the like kind, as a testimony of my great 
respect for the illustrious Society and design, wishing 
them also a most happy success in their laudable at- 
tempts to discover the true nature of the works of God, 
and praying that they, and all other searchers into 
physical truths, may cordially refer their attainments to 
the glory of the Author of Nature, and the benefit of 

Only a few months prior to his decease, he pro- 
posed to the Council, " that a proper person might be 
found out to discover plagiarys, and to assert inven- 

• Dr. Johnson says, " It is well known how much of our phi- 
losophy is derived from Boyle's discoveries, yet very few have 
read the detail of his experiments. His name is indeed reverenced^ 
hut his works are neglected ; we are contented to know, that he 
conquered his opponents, without inquiring what cavils were pro- 
duced against him, or by what proofs they were confuted." Ram-- 
Uer, No. 106. 


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330 HISTORY OP [1690 — 95. 

tions to their proper authors, whereupon/' adds the 
Minutes, " it was put to the question by ballot, whe- 
ther the Council were of opinion that it would be a 
useful work if such a person could be found, and it 
was carried in the affirmative." 

Some sealed packets, which Boyle had deposited 
with the Society, were opened in February, 1691 — 2. 
They contained Papers on chemical subjects, and bore 
the dates of 1680, 1683, and 1684^ 

A portrait of the philosopher, by Kerseboom, was 
presented to the Society by Boyle's executors, a short 
time after his decease : it is now in the Meeting-room. 

Among the donations presented to the Society in 
1691, must be mentioned the celebrated object-glass 
of 122 feet focal length, made by Huyghens, for an 
"aerial telescope*." Hooke was entrusted with this 
glass, with the view of constructing an apparatus for 
its use, and in the mean time, Halley was ordered to 
"view the scaffolding of St. Paul's Church, to see 
if that might not conveniently serve for the present, 
to erect the object-glass thereon, for viewing such of 
the celestial objects as now present themselves^" 
Much difficulty attended the mounting of these large 
telescopes. " To think," says Captain Smyth, " of a 
hundred, or a couple of hundred, feet for a refractor ! 
Auzout's was three hundred feet long, and therefore 

' The earliest of these communications is printed in the PkiL 
Trans, for Jan. 1683. 

* Two other object-glasses of Huyghens' were afterwards pre- 
sented to the Society, (one of I70 feet focal length), by Sir Isaac 
Newton, and the'other (of 210 feet, with two eye-glasses, by Scarlet), 
by the Rev. Gilbert Burnet, F.R.S. in 1724. 

* Journal-book, Vol. ix. p. 87. The 35th volume of the Phil. 
Trans, contains an account of Huyghens' Aerial Telescope. 


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1690 — 95.'] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 331 

useless; another one was contemplated, and all but 
completely constructed, of nearly double that length. 
I was so puzzled to know how they contrived to get 
the eye and object-glasses of these unwieldy machines 
marriedy or brought parallel to each other for perfect 
vision, and so desirous of comparing the performance 
of one of- them, that I was about to ask the Royal 
Society's permission to erect the aerial 123-foot tele- 
scope in their possession. The trouble, however, pro- 
mised to be so much greater than the object appeared 
to justify, that I laid the project aside, — not wishing 
to furnish a parallel to the case of the worthy cap- 
tain, whose veracity having been doubted as to the 
length of a West Indian cabbage-tree, took the trou- 
ble to bring one from Barbados, to prove his asser- 

At the anniversary in 1693, Evelyn, according to 
his Diary^ was again requested, or, as he styles it, 
" importun'd," to accept the office of President: he 
however persisted in declining the honour, and Sir 
Robert Southwell continued in office until 1695, when 
Mr. Charles Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax, 
was elected President. 

Charles Montague, Earl of Halifax, was the fourth 
son of George Montague, of Harton in Northampton- 
shire. He was born on the 16th April, 1661, and 
gave early evidence of an active genius, so much «o 
that, according to authorities, he " was the admiration 
of all who came near him." At fourteen he was sent 
to Westminster, when his facility of versifying attracted 
the notice of Dr. Busby; and, being elected King's 
scholar, he was removed, in 1682, to Trinity College, 

• Cyde of Celestial Objects^ Vol. i. p. 370. 

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332 HISTORY OF [l690 — 95. 

Cambridge, where he made great progress in his 
studies. Here he formed the acquaintance of Newton, 
and co-operated with him in attempting to establish 
a philosophical Society in that town. In 1684 he 
wrote a poem upon the death of Charles II., which 
led to his being noticed by the Earl of Dorset, 
who invited the author to London. The circum- 
stances connected with his advancement in the me- 
tropolis, are curious. — It is recorded, that in conjunc- 
tion with Matthew Prior, he published a parody, 
entitled. The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. 
His patron. Lord Dorset, introduced him to King 
William, with the w^ords, " * May it please your Majesty, 
I have brought a mouse to have the honour of kissing 
your hand ;' at which the King smiled, and being told 
the reason of Mr. Montague's being so called from the 
parody above-mentioned, he replied, with an air of 
gaiety, * You will do well to put me in the way of 
making a man of him,' and ordered him an inunediate 
pension of 500/. per annum out of the privy purse, 
till an opportunity should offer of giving him an 
appointment ^" 

This soon occurred : after displaying high abilities 
in parliament, he was made one of the Commissioners 
of the Treasury, and subsequently Chancellor of the 
Exchequer •, in which office he accomplished the great 
work of re-coining all the current money of the king- 
dom. In this he was assisted by Newton, Locke, and 

^ Memoirs of the Life of Charlee Monta^te^ p. 17* 
* Prior was greatly discontented at being less fortunate than his 
friend. He angrily expostulates : 

"My friend Charles Montague's preferr'd. 
Nor would I have it long observed, 
That one mouse eats, while t' other's starved." 


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1690 — 95.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 333 

HaHey* ; and it was on this occasion that he obtained 
for Newton the oflBce of Warden of the Mint, which 
the philosopher held until subsequently promoted to 
the higher appointment of Master of that establish- 

"This," says Sir David Brewster, "must have 
been peculiarly gratifying to the Royal Society, and it 
was probably from a feeling of gratitude to Mr. Mon- 
tague, as much as from a regard to his talents, that 
this able statesman was elected President of that 
learned body, on the 30th November, 1695." 

In 1698 he was appointed first commissioner of 
the treasury, and, in 1700, created Baron Halifax 
in the county of York. In 1701 and 1702 he was 
impeached by the House of Commons, for breach of 
trust ; but he was entirely exculpated by the House 
of Lords, who dismissed the impeachment. His great 
attachment to Newton's niece, Mrs. Catherine Barton, 
widow of Colonel Barton, is well known. The lady 
was young and beautiful. It is not explained why 
he did not marry her instead of the Countess of 
Manchester; he, however, left her a large portion 
of his ^fortune. As may be imagined, she was not 
exempted from severe and unkind criticisms and 

On the death of Queen Anne, Lord Halifax was 
appointed one of the regents ; and on the accession 
of George I. was created Earl of Halifax, and First 
Commissioner of the Treasury, with a grant to his 
nephew of the first auditorship of the Exchequer. 

He died rather suddenly on the 19th May, 1715, 

• Halley was appointed Master of tbe Mint at Chester, where 
a considerable amount of money was re-coined. 


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334 HISTORY OF [1690 — ^95. 

in the 54th year of his age, and was interred in West- 
minster Abbey. 

The Earl of Halifax was, as Pope says, ** fed with 
dedications ;' but we must remember the age in which 
he lived, and the extensive patronage that he enjoyed. 
Besides several political pamphlets, he published a 
volume of poems, which, however, have not shared 
the immortality of his verses on the toasting-glasses 
of the Kit-Kat Club, of which he was an original 
member ^^ 

Lord Halifax was a most liberal patron of genius, 
and, apart from his literary attainments, his name 
will ever be intimately and honourably associated with 
that of Newton. 

The author of the Principia must have felt an 
especial pleasure to have addressed to him, whilst 
President of the Royal Society, his solution of the 
celebrated problems, proposed by John Bernouilli. 

A remarkable circumstance in the history of the 
Society, during the presidency of Mr. Montague, was 
the publication of Dr. Woodward's JEssat/ towards a 

'^ It was customary at this once-celebrated Club to inscribe on 
the glasses, the name of the lady who was the toast for the year. 
" When she is regularly chosen," says the TcUler (No. 24), " her 
name is written with a diamond on the drinking-glasses. The hiero- 
glyphic of the diamond is to shew her, that her value is imaginary; 
and that of the glass to acquaint her, that her condition is frail, 
and depends on the hand which holds her." The ' Duchess of Rich- 
mond' was an enthusiastic toast in the time of Lord Halifax. To 
her he inscribed the following lines^ which^ according to custom, 
were cut on the glasses : — 

" Of two fair Richmonds, different ages boast ; 

Theirs was the first, and ours the brighter toast; 

The adorer's offering proves whose most divine. 

They sacrificed in water, we in wine." 


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1690 95.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 335 

Natural History of the Earthy printed in 1695, and 
reviewed at considerable length in the Transactions 
for that year. His theory attracted a great deal of 
attention, and gained him considerable reputation. 
" Among the contemporaries of Hooke and Ray," says 
Mr. Lyell in his Geology^ Woodward, a Professor of 
Medicine, had acquired the most extensive informa- 
tion respecting the geological structure of the crust 
of the earth";" and Dr. Whewell, in his History qf 
the Inductive Sciences, observes, that "one of the 
most remarkable occurrences in the progress of 
descriptive Geology in England, was the formation 
of a geological museum by William Woodward, as 
early as 1695. This collection, formed with great 
labour, systematically arranged, and carefully cata- 
logued, he bequeathed to the University of Cam- 
bridge; founding and endowing at the same time a 
professorship of the study of Geology. The Woodward- 
ian Museum still subsists, a monument of the sagacity 
with which its author so early saw the importance of 
such a collections^." 

Dr. Woodward was only 30 years of age when his 
book was published; his life is one among many 
examples of the triumph of abilities and application 
over difficulties. Of humble origin, he was placed 
apprentice to a linen-draper in London, but this 
situation not according with his philosophical turn of 
mind, he soon left it, and devoted himself to science. 
"He was so fortunate as to attract the attention 
of Dr. Peter Barwick, an eminent physician, who 
finding him of a very promising genius, took him 

" Vol. I. p. 53. 

*• Second edition. Vol. m. p. 542. 


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336 HISTORY OF [1690 — 9b. 

under his tuition in his own family. In this situation 
he began to apply himself to philosophy, anatomy, 
and physic, until he was invited by Sir Ralph Dutton 
to his seat at Sherborne, in Gloucestershire"." Here 
it was that he began those observations and collect 
tions relating to the present state of our globe, which 
laid the foundation for his discourses afterwards on 
that subject, concerning which he has given the fol- 
lowing account. " The country about Sherborne, and 
the neighbouring parts of Gloucestershire, to which I 
made frequent excursions, abounding with stone, and 
there being quarries of this kind open almost every- 
where, I began to visit these in order to inform myself 
of the nature, the situation, and the condition of the 
stone. In making these observations, I soon found 
there was incorporated with the sand of most of the 
stone thereabouts, great plenty and variety of sea- 
shells, with other marine productions. I took notice 
of the like lying loose on the fields in the ploughed 
lands so thick, that I have scarcely observed pebbles 
or flints more frequent and numerous on the ploughed 
lands of those countries that most abound in them. 
This was a speculation new to me, and what I judged 
of so great moment, that I resolved to pursue it 
through the other remoter parts of the kingdom; 
where I afterwards made observations upon all sorts 
of fossils, collected such as I thought remarkable, and 
sent them up to London"." 

In 1692, Dr. Woodward was appointed Professor 
of Physic at Gresham College, and the following year 
was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He took 

" Wards Lives of the Gresham Professors, p. 284. 
" Prc&ce to Catalogue of English Fossils. 


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l69o — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 337 

a very active part in its pursuits, and particularly in 
those relating to Geology, or, as this science was then 
termed, "the Natural History of the Earth." The 
Journal-books of that period show that Geology wa9 
frequently discussed at the ordinary Meetings. 

Dr. Woodward was often placed on the Council of 
the Royal Society. In 1710, when associated among 
others with Sir Hans Sloane, he made use of expres- 
sions in reference to the knight, which were consi- 
dered so insulting, that he was required by the other 
members to make an apology. This he refused to 
do; and consequently, after solemn deliberation, he 
was expelled the Council. He brought an action at 
law against that body, with the view of being rein- 
stated in his place, but was unsuccessful. The history 
of this quarrel is detailed at considerable length in 
the Council-minutes, and is remarkable as being the 
first recorded in the annals of the Society**. 

In 1693 Dr. Sloane was elected Secretary in the 
place of Dr. Gale, who withdrew froua office. Mr. 
Montague continued to occupy the chair until the 
Anniversary in 1698, when he resigned; and Lord 
Somers, then Lord Chancellor, was unanimously chosen 

** Woodv^ard fought a duel with Dr. Mead, under the gate 
of Gresham College. Woodward's foot slipped, and he fell. " Take 
your life !" exclaimed Mead. " Any thing but your physic," replied 
"Woodward. The quarrel arose from a difference of opinion on 
medical subjects. 



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Memoir of Lord Somers— -Committee appointed to wait upon 
him — Society receive valuable present firom the East India 
C(Mnpan7-*Halley sails on a Scientific Expedition^- Mr. Jones 
sent by the Society on an Expedition of Discovery — Resolution 
not to give opinions in Scientific Controversies — ^The Transact 
<uma0r— Dr. Woodward disowns the Work— Favour shown 
to the Academy of Sciences— Letter of M. Geoflfroy--*Zeal of 
Sir Hans Sloane--fiavery exhibits his Steam-engine — Presents 
Drawing of it to Society — Receives a Certificate— Performance 
of the Engine — Death of Hooke— His interest in the Society — 
His design of endowing the Society — ^His Wealth — ^Proposal 
to rebuild Gresham College^— Wren furnishes plan d rooms 
for the Society — Scheme abandoned — ^The Society resolve on 
building or buying a House — ^Lord Somers resigns — Sir Isaac 
Newton elected President 

1695— 1705, 

rilHE election of Lord Somers to the office of Presi- 
-L dent, reflects great lustre upon the Royal Society, 
** He was a man/' says Lord Campbell, in his Lives qf 
the Lord Chancellors^ '' eminent as a lawyer, a states- 
man, and a man of letters, — ^the whole of whose public 
career and character I can conscientiously praise — 
and whose private life, embellished by many virtues, 
could not have been liable to any grave imputation, 
since it has received the unqualified approbation of 

The family to which Lord Somers belonged, had 
long been proprietors of a small estate in the parish 
of Severn Stoke, in the county of Gloucester ; and of 
the site of a dissolved nunnery, called the ''White 
Ladies," a short distance from Worcester. 

The Chancellor's father, John Somers, was bred to 


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1695 — 1700.] HISTORY OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 339 

the law, which he practised with great success. In 
1649 he married Catherine Ceavem, of a respectable 
family in Shropshire. Her first child was a daughter, 
Elizabeth, afterwards Lady Jekyll. Her second, the 
future Chancellor, who was born in 1651. 

The first notice of the boy is exceedingly curious, 
and is stated, in Cooksey's Life and Character of 
Lord Somers, to be perfectly well authenticated. It 
is to the efiect, that when walking with one of his 
aunts, under whose care he was placed at the time, 
" a beautiful roost-cock flew upon his curly head, and 
while perched there, crowed three times very loudly \" 
Such an occurrence was of course viewed as an omen 
of his future greatness. 

At the proper season he was placed at the College- 
school at Worcester, where, under Dr. Bright, an 
eminent classical scholar, he was thoroughly groimded 
in Greek and Latin. He afterwards went to a private 
academy at Walsall, and to another in Shropshire. 
In Seward's Anecdotes^ it is stated that ''though he 
was the brightest boy in the College-school, instead 
of joining his young companions in their boyish 
amusements, he was seen walking and musing alone, 
not so much as looking on while they were at play'." 

Lord Campbell informs us, that when only sixteen 
years of age he was matriculated, and admitted of 
Trinity College, Oxford ; a few years after, he occupied 
a desk in his father's law-office at White Ladies. The 
drudgery of an attorney's office was far from agree- 
able to him, and he eagerly seized every opportunity 
to exchange the study of parchments for the more 
congenial pursuits of literature. 

1 Cooksey, p. 10. « Vol n. p. 114. 

Z 2 


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340 . HISTORY OF [1695 — 1700. 

Parliamentary business having led Sir Francis 
Winnington, afterwards Solicitor-General, to White 
Ladies, he became acquainted with young Somers, 
and perceiving his merit, recommended that he should 
study for the bar, pointing out that Littleton and 
other Worcestershire men had risen to be judges. 
With considerable difficulty old Somers yielded his 
consent to this change, and on the 24th May, 1669, 
his son went to London, and entered as a student of 
the Middle Temple, 

He forthwith commenced the study of law under 
Sir Francis Winnington, spending his vacations at 
White Ladies, where he made the acquaintance of 
the young Earl of Shrewsbury, which early ripened 
into a friendship that lasted through life. He returned 
to London with the Earl, who introduced him to 
Dryden, and other distinguished men of letters, and 
also to several noblemen. His manners soon acquired 
that '' most exquisite taste of politeness^'' for which 
he was afterwards so distinguished. It appears that 
his new acquaintances made him painftiUy aware of 
his defective education, which, says Lord Campbell, 
" must have arisen either from a very short stay at 
the University, or from idleness while resident there." 
He returned to his College for the purpose of acquir- 
ing a sound education, keeping his terms at the Mid- 
dle Temple during his residence at the University. 
On the 5th May, 1676, he was called to the Bar, but 
did not begin to practise until 1681, when, says Lord 
Campbell, he was '' a ripe and good scholar as well 
as lawyer ; and, regard being had to his acquaintance 
with modem languages and literature, perhaps the 

« Freeholder, Nq. 39. 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 341 

most accomplished man that ever rose to high emi- 
nence in the profession of the law in England." His 
progress was extremely rapid ; so much so, that in a 
very few years his professional profits amounted to 
700?. a year, a very large sum for those times*. 

It would greatly exceed our limits to follow Lord 
Somers at length through his brilliant professional 
career. The nature of this work is much more closely 
connected with his literary than forensic life. I shall, 
therefore, only glance at his various official promo- 
tions. At the age of thirty-seven he was elected to 
the Convention Parliament, aa representative of Wor- 
cester; appointed Solicitor-General, and knighted, 
upon the accession of William and Mary. On the 
2nd May, 1692, he was promoted to be Attorney- 
General, and it was while holding this office that he 
acted as counsel for the plaintiff in the case of the 
Duke of Norfolk v. Germaine, the first instance on 
record in England of an action to recover damages for 
criminal conversation with the plaintiff's wife^ On 
the 23rd March, 1693, the Great Seal was placed in 
his hands as Lord Keeper, and he was at the same 
time sworn of their Majesties' Most Honourable Privy 
Council. Evelyn thus alludes to the promotion of 
Lord Somers, in his Diary : " The Attorney-General 
Somers made Lord Keeper, — a young lawyer of extra- 
ordinary merit." He presided in the Court of Chan- 
cery for seven years, winning the applause of all 

^ Cooksey 8 Life^ p. 15. 

' The damages were laid at 100,000/. The jury found a ver- 
dict for the plaintiff, with 100 marks damages. The court, it ap* 
pears, reprimanded them severely for giving so small and scandalona 
a fine. 


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842 HISTORY OF [1695 — 1700. 

parties for his learning, impartiality, and courtesy. 
Only one of his decrees has been discovered to have 
been reversed. During the period that he remained 
in office, the administration of affairs at home was 
chiefly intrusted to him®. He had been firequently 
offered a peerage, but steadily refused it until 1697, 
when being appointed Lord Chancellor, he was at 
the same time created Baron Somers of Evesham, 
in the county of Worcester. To support the dig- 
nity, the King granted to him and his heirs the 
manors of Beigate and Howleigh in Surrey, and 
2100?. a year out of the fee-farm rents of the crown. 
'' Lord Somers had now reached his highest pitch of 
worldly prosperity. He was not only the favourite 
of the King, but he could influence a decided majority 
in both houses of Parliament, and his general popu- 
larity was such, that the High Church party expressed 
a wish that he were theirs. The Tory fox-hunters 
could say nothing against him, except that he was ' a 
vile Whig ;' the merchants celebrated him as the only 
Lord Chancellor who had ever known any thing of 
trade or finance; the lawyers were proud of him as 
shedding new glory on their order ; and so much was 
he praised for his taste in literature, and his patronage 
of literary men, that all works of any merit in verse 
or prose were inscribed to him'." 

Lord Campbell adds, that " he assisted Montague 
in the appointment of Newton as Warden of the Mint, 
and, on his recommendation, Locke was nominated a 
Lord of Trade, to carry into effect the sound com- 
mercial principles which this great philosopher had 
propounded in his writings." 

« Campbell, Vol. iv. p. 119. ^ ibid., p. 133. 

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1695 1700.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 343 

His income enabled him to encourage rising merit, 
and to assist literary men, among whom Addison 
stands prominent. Tickell, in his Life qf Addison^ 
relates that " he was in his twenty-eighth year, when 
his inclination to see France and Italy was encouraged 
by the great Lord Chancellor Somers, one of that 
kind of patriots who think it no waste of the public 
treasure to purchase politeness to their country. The 
poem upon one of King William's campaigns, addressed 
to his Lordship, was received with great humanity^ 
and occasioned a message from him to the author, to 
desire his acquaintance. He soon after obtained, by 
his interest, a yearly pension of three hundred pounds 
from the Crown, to support him in his travels.'* 

Addison's Remarks on Italy were also dedicated 
to Lord Somers. It appears to be the fate of all 
great and good men to undergo severe trials ; and the 
life of Lord Somers was no exception to the law. It 
was, indeed, hardly to be supposed, that the Lord Chan- 
cellor of those days could hold his high office with-* 
out provoking enemies. On the 17th April, 1700, the 
King yielded to popular clamour, and deprived Lord 
Somers of the great seal. Oldmixon gives the follow- 
ing account of this transaction, on the authority of 
a gentleman who had it from Lord Somers. ^' The 

^ The dedication thus comroenoes: 

^'If yet your thoughts are loose from state afiairs. 
Nor feel the burden of a nation's cares, 
If yet your time and actions axe your own. 
Receive the present of a muse unknown ; 
A muse that in adventurous numbers sings, 
The rout of armies and the fall of kings ; 
Britain advanced, and Europe's peace restored, 
By Somers' counsels, and by Nassau's sword." 


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344 HISTORY OF [1695 — 1700. 

King some time before the prorogation, which was 
April 11, had given his Lordship a hint of the neces- 
sity he should be under to part with him, in order 
to accommodate matters with those in opposition to 
the measures of the administration. His Lordship, 
upon this, told his Majesty, that he knew very well 
what his enemies aimed at, by their abusing and per- 
secuting him as they had lately done. That the Great 
Seal was his greatest crime, and if he quitted it he 
should be forgiven ; but knowing what ill use would 
be made of it, if it were put into their hands, he was 
resolved, with his Majesty's permission, to keep it in 
defiance of their malice, and to stand all the trials 
they should put upon him with the support of his 
innocence, and the hopes of his being serviceable to 
his Majesty. That he feared them not; but if he 
would be as firm to his Mends, as they would be to 
him, they should be able to carry whatever points he 
had in view for the public welfare in the new Parlia- 
ment. The King shook his head as a sign of his difii^ 
dence, and only said, It must he so^^ 

Evelyn writes in allusion to the Chancellor's fall f 
•* The Seal was taken from Lord Somers, though he 
had been acquitted by a great majority of votes for 
what was charged against him in the House of Com- 
mons. It is certain that this Chancellor was a most 
excellent lawyer, very learned in all polite literature, 
a superior pen, master of a handsome style, and of 
easy conversation." 

Party feeling ran too high to be satisfied with the 
mere dismissal of Lord Somers from office. On the 
1st April, 1701, Simon Harcourt, the great Tory law- 

B Oldmizon 8 HuL^ p. 208. 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 345 

yer, appeared at the bar of the House of Lords, " in 
the name of the House of Commons, and all the Com^ 
mons of England, and impeached John, Lord Somers, 
of high crimes and misdemeanours^^" 

The ex-chancellor was most honourably acquitted ; 
but although powerful attempts were made to restore 
him to office, they all proved fruitless. Indeed, such 
was the prejudice of Queen Anne against him, that 
he was excluded from the Privy Council, and even 
from the Commission of the Peace. 

It was during this period that his duties as Presi* 
dent of the Royal Society were peculiarly grateful to 
him. An ardent lover of literature and science, he 
had, as a Fellow, long been in the habit of frequenting 
the Meetings. As President, he now regularly at^ 
tended, presiding over the Council and ordinary Meet- 
ings, and doing all in his power to extend the reputa- 
tion and usefulness of the Society. Lord Campbell 
says, that at this time '' he presents the heau idSai of 
an ex-chancellor, — active in his place in Parliament 
when he could serve the state, and devoting his leisure 
to philosophy and literature." He was an original 
member of the Kit-Cat Club, where he was in the 
habit of meeting literary men". Horace Walpole, in 
his Life of Vertite, the Engraver^ states that Lord 

^^ The Commons carried the following resolution hy a majority 
of 198 to 188:— ''That John, Lord Somers, by advising His Ma- 
jesty> in 1698, to the treaty for partition of the Spanish monarchy, 
whereby large territories of the King of Spain's dominions were 
to be deliTered up to France, was guilty of a high crime and mis- 

^^ ''At the distance of many years, Swift, notwithstanding the 
hardness of his nature, retamed a tender recollection of the pleasant 
literary reunions at the houses of Pope, Somers, and Montague." 
Campbell, VoL iv. 


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346 HISTOBY OF [1695 — 1700. 

Somers was the first to bring him into notice, by 
employing him to engrave the portrait of Archbishop 
Tillotson; and it is well known that he made a superb 
collection of paintii^s, engravings, medals, and books, 
with ohjets de vertu. "I^" says Addison^ "he deli- 
vered his opinion upon a piece of poetry, a statue, or 
a picture, there was something so just and delicate in 
his observations, as naturally produced pleasure and 
assent in those who heard him"." 

He carried on a correspondence with several dis* 
tinguished men of letters in foreign countries, and was 
master of seven languages, without having been out 
of England. 

" Besides his collection of printed tracts (which 
were twice published, first in 1748, and again in 
1809, under the superintendence of Sir W. Scott), he 
left behind him an immense mass of MSS., partly his 
own composition, partly others. These came into the 
possession of the Hardwicke family, who were allied 
to him by marriage, and being deposited in the cham- 
bers of the Hon. Charles Yorke, in Lincoln's Inn, were 
there nearly all destroyed by an accidental fire. Mr. 
Yorke collected a few of the papers saved, which he 
bound in a folio volume. From this a selection was 
given in the Miscellaneous State Papers, published in 
1778, by the second Earl of Hardwicke ^^" 

So great a man could not remain many years 
neglected. In 1708 he was appointed Lord President 
of the Council, which appears to have given general 
satisfaction, and was so fortunate as even to have 
partly overcome the Queen's prejudice against him. 

^ Freeholder^ No. 39. 

13 Campbell, Vol. iv. p. 221. 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 347 

He retained this office for two years, when he was 
dismissed with his Whig colleagues. He now entered 
into violent opposition against the Tories, which he 
maintained until the Queen's death. On the arrival 
of George I. in England, he was sworn of the Privy 
Council, had a seat in the Cabinet assigned to him, 
and would have received the Great Seal, had his 
health permitted him to undergo the labours of office. 
But this not being the case, an additional pension of 
2000/. a-year was settled upon him. His infirmities, 
from which he had been long suffering, continued to 
increase, and he expired at his villa in Hertfordshire, 
on the 26th April, 1716, not old in years, but in 
worldly greatness and glory. He never married, 
though he paid his addresses to Miss Anne Bawdon, 
daughter of Sir John Bawdon, a wealthy alderman of 
London. This happened when he was Solicitor-Gene- 
ral. The lady, it is stated, reciprocated his affection, 
but her sordid father conceived the offer of a rich 
Turkey merchant to be more advantageous than that 
of the future Chancellor, and peremptorily forbade 
Lord Somers' attention. The latter keenly felt the 
disappointment, which had the effect of causing him 
to forego all matrimonial considerations, and to culti- 
vate literature and science more assiduously. Remem- 
bering that Newton was the successor of Lord Somers, 
as President of the Royal Society, we must not regret 
that the latter occupied the chair for the short period 
of five years ; otherwise we might justly regret that 
the Royal Society was not presided over by so great 
and good a man as Lord Somers for a much longer 
time. It is probable that he would have retained 
this high office, had not the brilliancy of Newton's 
name pointed out the distinguished philosopher as 


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348 HISTORY OF [1695 — 1700. 

the proper person to occupy the chair of the great, 
and at that time only scientific, body in the kingdom. 
Lord Campbell expressly states, that Lord Somers 
" gracefully resigned the Presidency to Sir Isaac New- 
ton," whom he, no doubt, conceived was the fittest 
individual to succeed him. 

It would be easy to multiply extracts from the 
works of statesmen, historians, and poets, all alike 
loud and eloquent in their praise of Lord Somers. 
Addison says, ** He had worn himself out in his appli- 
cation to such studies as made him useful or oma* 
mental to the world", in concerting schemes for the 
welfare of his country, and in prosecuting such mea- 
sures as were necessary for making those schemes effec^ 
tual. His great humanity appeared in the minutest 
circumstances of his conversation. You found it in 
the benevolence of his aspect, the complacency of his 
behaviour, and the tone of his voice". His great 
application to the severer studies of the law had not 
infected his temper with any thing positive or liti- 
gious. He did not know what it was to wrangle on 
indifierent points, to triumph in the superiority of 
his understanding, or to be supercilious on the side 
of truth. He joined the greatest delicacy of good 
breeding to the greatest strength of reason. This 
great man was not more conspicuous as a patriot 
and a statesman, than as a person of universal know- 
ledge and learning. As by dividing his time between 

^^ His motto was, Prodeue guam eanspiei. 

^ De Foe said of him, in his Jure Divino : 

"Somen, by nature great, and bom to rise, 
In counsel wary, and in conduct wise; 
His judgment steady, and his genius strong. 
And all men own the music of his tongue." 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 349 

the public scenes of business, and the private retire* * 
ments of life, he took care to keep up both the great 
and good man; so by the same means he accom- 
plished himself not only in the knowledge of men 
and things, but in the skill of the most refined arts 
and sciences**." A fine portrait of Lord Somers, by 
Sir G. Kneller, is suspended in the Meeting-room of 
the Society. It was presented by Sir Joseph Jekyll. 

The Society were highly sensible of the honour 
conferred on them by Lord Somers assuming the 
Presidency. A Committee was immediately appointed 
to wait on his Lordship, and acquaint him with the 
duties of his new office. Under the date of Dec. 7, 
Evelyn records : — " Being one of the Council of the 
Royal Society, I was named to be of the Committee 
to wait upon our new President, the Lord Chancellor. 
Our Secretary Dr. Sloane, and Sir R. Southwell, last 
Vice-President, carrying our book of Statutes, the 
Office of the President being read, his Lordship sub- 
scribed his name, and took the oaths according to 
our Statutes, as a corporation for the improvement 
of natural knowledge. Then his Lordship made a 
short compliment concerning the honour the Society 
had done him, and how ready he would be to promote 
so noble a designe, and come himself among us as 
often as his attendance on the public would permit, 
and so we took our leave"." 

In 1698 the Society received a very valuable pre- 
sent from the East India Company, the nature of 
which will be understood by the following letter. 

^« Freeholder, No. 39. ^7 jyiary. Vol. n. p. 61. 


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350 HISTORY OP [1^95 — 1700. 

" Gresham College, Nov. 23, 1698. 
" Gentlemen, 

'' The Koyal Society in a full assem- 
bly this day commanded me to return you their most 
hiunble and hearty thanks for your late valuable and 
acceptable present of plants, drugs, &c., of the East 
Indies, with the account of the uses of them in those 
parts. Their Society being a body instituted for the 
advancement of naturall knowledge, they will not be 
wanting in their duty and endeavours to bestow a gift 
so generously and properly bestowed to the general use 
of mankind, and, more particularly, that of their own 
country. They will also take care that your most 
Honorable Company, whose prosperity they truly wish, 
shall have all publick acknowledgments due for such a 
favour*®. These things I was ordered to write to you 
in their name, and remain, 

" Your, &c. Hans Sloane. 

" The Hon. Eagt India Company.'' 

In this year the Society were deprived of the 
valuable services of Halley, who sailed on a scientific 
expedition, in the Paramour, fitted out by Govern- 
ment, to lay down the longitudes and latitudes of his 
Majesty's settlements in America, and to endeavour 
to verify his theory of the variation of the compass, 
which he had published in 1683. He set out on the 
24th November, but on crossing the line his men grew 
sickly, and his lieutenant having mutinied, he returned 
home in June, 1699- On the 16th August, he laid 
before the Society the variations of the needle, which 
he had observed during his voyage ; and showed that 

^^ A description of these plants is printed in the 22nd volume 
of the TraMotUonsi, 


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1695 — 1700.] THE. ROYAL SOCIETY. 351 

Brazil was erroneously placed in the maps. It is also 
stated in the Journal-book, that he submitted some 
barnacles to the Society, which he observed to be of 
quick growth. Having succeeded in getting his lieu- 
tenant tried and cashiered, he sailed again in Septem- 
ber, 1699, in the same ship, accompanied by another 
of less size, of which he had also the command. He 
now traversed the Atlantic from one hemisphere to 
the other, and having made observations at St. Helena^ 
Brazil, Cape Verd, Barbados, Madeira, the Canaries, 
the Coast of Barbary, and in many other latitudes, 
returned to England in 1700, and the next year pub- 
lished a general chart, showing at one view the varia- 
tion of the compass in all those places ^^ This will 
be more particularly mentioned, with reference to the 
recent labours of the Society, in connexion with ter- 
restrial magnetism. 

About the same time that Halley sailed on his 
first voyage, Mr. Jezreel Jones, who had acted as 
clerk to the Society for two years, set out under their 
patronage on an expedition of discovery into the 
interior of Africa. The Council appear to have enter- 
tained a very .high opinion of Mr. Jones ; they voted 
him 100/. towards his journey, regretting their ina- 

^^ Bespectmg Halley's voyages, Humboldt says: ^^ Never before, 
I believe, did any government equip a naval expedition for an 
object, which, whilst its attainment promised considerable advan- 
tages for practical navigation, yet so properly deserves to be entitled 
scientific or physico-mathematicaL Halley, as soon as he returned 
from his voyages, hazarded the conjecture that the Aurora Borealis 
is a magnetic phenomenon. Faraday's brilliant discovery of the 
evolution of light by magnetism, has raised this hypothesis, enounced 
in 1714, to the rank of an experimental certainty." Cotmoij 
Vol. n. p. 333. 


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352 HISTORY OF £1695 — I7OQ. 

bility to defray all the expenses of his expedition^. 
The sum of 201. was voted at the same time to Mr. 
Vernon, to assist him in exploring the Canaries^ and 
the Council-minutes add, '' to let him know that they 
expect of him, besides natural history collections, 
to take care to answer such queries as should be 
recommended to him from the Society"," 

In 1700, Dr. Bidloo published a work, which he 
dedicated to the Society, entitled GiUielmtis Camper 
cHminia literarii citahis coram Tribunali NoHliss. 
Ampliss. Societatis Britanno Hegice, in which he 
brought forward several serious charges against Mr. 
Cowper, a surgeon. With a copy of the work he 
addressed a letter to Dr. Sloane, requesting him to 
urge the Council to adjudicate between him and Mr. 
Cowper. Dr. Sloane did so, and was ordered by the 
Council to acquaint Dr. Bidloo, '' that the Society are 
not erected for determining controversies, but pro- 
moting naturall and experimentall knowledge, which 
they will do in him or anybody else"." This transac- 
tion is interesting, as showing the early determination 
of the Council not to mix themselves in quarrels 
between scientific men, whether Fellows of the Royal 
Society or not. 

Soon afterwards a pamphlet, called the Trans- 
actioneer, made its appearance, the tendency of which 
was to cast ridicule on the Society and its Transact 

^ Council-minutes, Vol. n. p. 111. Mr. Jones oommnnicated 
some of his observations and discoveries to the Society. See PhiL 
TVaiM., Vol. XXI. p. 248. 

*^ Council-minutes, VoL u. p. 101. 

^ The reader is referred to Dr. Sloane's letter to Dr. Bidloo, 
ior further information on this subject. Letter-book, Vol. xii. p, 


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1695 1700,] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 353 

tions. It is so frequently alluded to in the Minutes 
of Council, with the view of taking legal proceedings 
against the author, that I became anxious to see the 
work. The library of the Royal Society does not 
possess a copy of this scurrilous publication. One is 
preserved in the British Museum : it is entitled The 
Transadumeer^ mth som^ of his Philosophical Fan- 
cies^ in two dialogues. The preface, which consists 
mainly of an attack upon the Secretary, commences : 
"By the following dialogues it is apparent that by 
industry alone a man may get so much reputation, 
almost in any profession, as shall be sufficient to 
amuse the world, though he has neither parts nor 
learning to supply it." But the whole publication is 
of so low and ridiculous a nature that it is surprising 
the Council should have thought it worth their while 
to notice it". They appear, however, to have used 
every exertion to discover the author's name; and 
it seems, by the following letter, the original of which 
exists in the British Museum, that Dr. Woodward was 
suspected to be concerned in the publication, but he 
warmly disowns it**. 

" It cannot be any news to you, y* there was a while 
ago published a pamphlet, entitled y® TranMctioneery 

^ This will appear,' from these heads, taken at random from 
the table of contents : 

Eggs in the cauda of a barnacle. 
Four sorts of lady's bugs, 
A buck in a snake's belly. 
A shower of whitings. 
A shower of butter to dress them with. 
^ Dr. Johnson says : " Dr. William King, bom in 1663, a 
man of shallowness, wrote the Transactioneer in 1700, in which 
he satirized the Royal Society, at least Sir H. Sloane." Worksy 
Vol. X. p. 32. 

VOL. I. A A 


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354 HISTORY OF [1695 — 1700. 

which calls Dr. Sloane's management of the PhUoi. 
TraflModwM in question : and I am sorry to find two 
or three Members of y* Society, and my particular 
friends, ill-treated in it : the writer of it is but meanly 
qualified for what he undertakes ; tho' whether there 
was not occasion given, may be worth your consideration. 
This Tm sure, the world has been now for some time 
past very ' loud upon y^ subject : and there were those 
who Iidd y^ charges so much wrong, y^ I have but too 
often occasion to vindicate even the Society it self, and 
y^ in publick company too. 'Twas a regard I justly 
ow'd y* excellent Body, and shall be always ready to 
pay it, as well as to contribute all that is in my power 
towards carrying on the design of it. At present. Sir, 
'tis some dissatisfaction to me to ly under a necessity of 
laying a complaint before you. The matter is this : Dr. 
Sloane and his friend Mr. Pettiver cause it to be 
spread abroad that I am the author, or at least con- 
cerned in writing y^ aforesaid pamphlet. They do not 
directly charge me with it : that is not their way, but 
they do the thing as effectually by insinuating in their 
clubbs and meetings, from whence all the rumour 
comes, y^ y^ world ascribes the pamphlet to me. At 
other times they assert that it was wrote by a Member 
or Members of y* Society. I cannot but believe they 
know y^ true Author all y^ while : at least they know 
I utterly disown it. What reason they can have to sus- 
pe.ct me of any such practises, they best know. For my 
own part, I'm sure I'm far from them: and will never 
say or write any thing y* I will not own and justify. 
I am so far from writing the TrcvModioneer^ or having 
any hand in it, y* I can averr it in great truth I do not 
so much as know who wrote it. At the same time y^ 
they intide me to it, they assert y* y* pamphlet is very 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 356 

foolish and very malicious. 'Tis certainly not fit y* 
without any grounds I should thus publickly be brought 
under so very heinous a charge : and I submit it to you 
and y* Council to direct in what manner I shall have 
reparation and justice done me. They are pleased 
likewise to assign Mr. Harris a share in the work ; which 
I have acquainted him with, and I do not make any 
question but he will vindicate himself*. 

<a am 
" Your obedient humble Servant, 
"J. Woodward." 

In 1699 the Academy of Sciences at Paris received 
a new charter, which gave the members considerable 
powers, and at the same time advanced and rewarded 
science. The fact is worthy of mention, as marking 
the different manner in which the great learned So- 
cieties of England and France were treated by their 
respective Sovereigns. In the latter country science 
was thus early fostered and rewarded, while in Eng- 
land the Royal Society were left to struggle with 
poverty. The letter of M. Geoflfroy (an Academician) 
to Dr. Sloane, giving an account of the new organi- 
zation of the Academy, is sufficiently interesting to be 
preserved here. It is dated Paris, March 7, 1699. 

*' I shall here give you an account of the great 
splendor that the Acaddmie des Sciences has received 
by the regulations, increase, Encouragement, and 
orders, M. UAhh6 Bignon has obtained to it from 
the King. That Academy is now composed of ten 
honorary academicians, which are chosen learned 
and eminent gentlemen ; of eight strangers, associates, 
each of which are distinguished by his learning; 

^ Sloane MSS. 4441. 



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356 HISTORY OF [1695—1700. 

twenty pensioners, fellows; twenty Aleves; twelve 
French associates. Between the honorary Academi- 
cians, two are elected every year, one for President, 
the other for Vice-president. Twenty pensioners have 
every year 1500 French livres, and after the death of 
one pensioner, the Academic will propose to the 
King three persons, associates or Aleves, or sometimes 
others, and His Majesty will call one of the three for 
pensioner^." The letter concludes with a list of the 
Academicians, and it is gratifying to find the name of 
Newton as a foreign Member^. 

During the Secretaryship of Sir Hans Sloane, the 
scientific correspondence of the Society received con- 
siderable impulse. The Letter-books contain copies 
of a great number of letters which he addressed to 
persons, at home and abroad, requesting communica- 
tions on subjects relating to the objects of the Society. 
In one of these we read : — 

"The Royall Society are resolved to prosecute 
vigorously the whole designs of their institution, and 
accordingly they desire you will be pleased to give them 

*• Letter-book, Vol. xn. p. 91. 

^ Dr. Lister, in his Jcfumey to Paris, in giving an account 
of the Academic des Sciences, says, ^' I was informed by some of 
tbem, that they have this great advantage to encourage them in 
the pursuit of Natural Philosophy, that if any of the Members 
shall give in a bill of charges of any experiments which he shall 
have made ; Or shall desire the impression of any book, and bring 
in the charges of graving required for such book, the president 
allowing it and signing it, the money is forthwith reimbursed by 
the King. Thus, if M. Merrie for example, shall require live tor- 
toises for the making good the experiments about the heart, they 
shall be brought him, as many as he pleases, at the King's charge." 
p. 79. Such royal patronage, it must be confessed, was wholly 
unknown to the English philosophers. 


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1695 — 1700.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 367 

an account of what you meet with or hear of, that is 
curious in nature, or any ways tending to the advance- 
ment of natural! knowledge, or usefull arts. They in 
return will always be glad to serve you in any thing in 
their power." 

The result of this correspondence is apparent in 
the large number of communications made to the 
Society at the ordinary Meetings, and recorded in the 
Journal and Register-books. Several of these are of 
great interest ; and it is not a little curious to trace in 
them the germ of discoveries in science which, in a 
more perfected state, have effected such extraordinary 
changes in the condition of mankind. Of such a 
nature was Savory's condensing steam-engine, a model 
of which was exhibited to the Society on the 14th 
June, 1699. In the Minutes of that date we find, that 
" Mr. Savery entertained the Society with shewing his 
engine to raise water by the force of fire. He was 
thanked for shewing the experiment, which succeeded 
according to expectation, and was approved of." Sa- 
very presented the Society w^ith a drawing of his 
engine", accompanied by a description, which was 
printed in the 21st volume of the Transactions. At 
his request, the Society gave him a certificate, that 
the engine exhibited before them " succeeded accord- 
ing to expectation, and to their satisfaction." It will 
be remembered, that although the Marquis of Wor- 
cester undoubtedly invented a steam-engine "to drive 
up water by fire," as specified in his Century qf In- 
ventions^ and which Cosmo de' Medici, Grand Duke 

^ This is preserved among the Society's collection of prints 
and drawings. It is entitled. An Engine for Raising WeUer by 
FirBy by Thomas Savery. 


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358 HISTORY OF [1700 — 5* 

of Tuscany, describes in his Diary as having seen in 
operation at Vauxhall in 1656*, yet we are indebted 
to Savery for the introduction of a vacuum, which 
enabled his engine to perform double the work of 
that invented by the Marquis of Worcester. 

The certificate granted to Savery by the Society, 
was the means of his prociuring a patent from the 
Crown for the manufacture of steam-engines. It is 
recorded, in Switzer's System qf Hyd/rostatics^ pub- 
lished in 1729, that '^the first time a steam-engine 
play'd was in a potter's house at Lambeth, where, 
though it was a small engine, yet it (the water) 
forced its way through the roof, and struck up the 
tiles, in a manner that surprised all the spectators^.'' 

The Museum was also indebted to Sir Hans Sloane 
for many curiosities sent from abroad. At a Meeting 
in 1700, a live crocodile and some opossums were 
exhibited, which afibrded considerable interest to the 

In 1703 the Society lost another of their ablest men. 

^ ''His Highness, that he might not lose the daj uselessly, 
went agun after dinner to the other side of the city, extending his 
excursion as fiur as Whitehall heyond the Palace of the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, to see an hydraulic machine, invented by my Lord 
Somerset, Marquis of Worcester. It ndses water more than forty 
geometrical feet by the power of one man only; and in a very 
short space of time will draw up four vessels of water through a 
tube or channel not more than a span in width ; on which account 
it is considered to be of greater service to the public than the 
other machine near Somerset-house." p. 325. 

^ The engineer may be interested to learn, that a few years 
after Savory's engine was exhibited, a Paper was read before the 
Society, entitled, A deteription of an Efigine to raise water by 
the help of Quickiilvery invented by the late Mr. Joshua Hoskins, 
and made practicable and useful by J. Desaguliers. See PhU» 
Trans., No. 370. 


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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 369 

by the death of Robert Hooke, who died on the 3rd 
March in the above year. He bad been very infirm 
for several months previous to his decease, so much 
so, indeed, that one of his biographers speaks of 
him as *' living a dying life." Yet, although in this 
unhappy state, the Royal Society still occupied his 
tboughts'\ for we find Halley giving an account of 
his marine barometer, which Hooke personally was 
unable to do; and on the 24th February,* only eight 
days before his decease, there is an entry in the Jour- 
nal-book of his applying for Cheyney*s Fluxionum 
Mdhodtia Inversa, which had been shortly before pre- 
sented to the Society. 

"He was," says his biographer Waller, "of an 
active, restless^ inde&tigable genius, even almost to 
the last ; and always slept little, to his death, seldom 
going to sleep till two, three, or four o'clock in the 
morning, and seldomer to bed, oflener continuing his 
studies all night, and taking a short nap in the day. 
His temper was melancholy, mistrustful, and jealous, 
which more increased upon him with his years." This 
failing was probably aggravated by the long chancery- 
suit in which he was involved, to recover the salary 
accorded to him by Sir John Cutler, which termi- 
nated eventually in his favour, on the 18th July, 
1696. How heavily this afiair weighed upon his 
spirits, appears, not only from his repeated appli- 
cations to the Council, to grant him a certificate of 
his having delivered the required lectures'^, but also 

'^ His Vindicatum of the Royal Society abundantly testifies the 
interest which he took in all its affiun. 

^ The following is a copy of the certificate. The original is 
preserved in the British Museum among Hooke's Papers : 


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360 HI8TOBY OF [l700 — 5. 

^from the entry in his Diary ^ recording the happy 
issue of his law-suit, which runs thus: "D.O.M.S.H. 
L.G.LS.S.A.'* I was born on this day of July, 1635, 
a>nd God has given me a new birth: may I never 
forget his mercies to me ; whilst he gives me breath 
may I praise him!'' 

Waller states that he, as well is others, often 
heard Hooke declare, that *^ he had a great project in 
his head, to devote the greatest part of his estate 
to promote the design of the Royal Society." " With 
this view," Waller pursues, "he proposed building 
a handsome fabric for the Society's use, with a library, 

" We, the Piesident and Councell of the Royall Society of 
London for improving naturall knowledge, doe hereby certify all 
whom it may concern, that Robert Hooke, Dr. of Physick, and 
one of the Fellows of our Society, was for his great learning in 
naturall and mathematicall sciences, his diligence and readiness of 
invention in things of art, made choice of and employed as Direc- 
tor and Curator of Experiments to be made at the publique Meet- 
ings of the said Society, and was by them paid eighty pounds 
a year for the said employment, untill Sir John Cutler, Kt. and 
Bart., (both for the said Dr.'s encouragement, and also to express 
his respects to the said Society,) did by bond in the penalty of 
1000/. secure to the said Dr. an annuity of 50/. to be paid him 
half-yearly, during his the Dr.'s life ; whereupon, so much of the said 
allowance was abated, and only 30/. yearly was afterwards paid 
by the said Society, and the same was accepted by the said Dr., 
in consideration of the aforesaid annuity settled on him by Sir 
John Cutler. And we doe further certify, that the said Dr. Hooke 
hath ever since the said annuity was settled, constantly continued 
to read lectures and to discourse on such subjects as were recom- 
mended to him by the said Society. All which he hath performed 
to their great satisfaction, and to the full of his undertaking. In 
testimony whereof we have hereunto caused our common seal to 
be a£Bxed." 

33 This is read Deo Opt. Maa, 9ummui Honor^ Laus, Gloria^ 
in iectila Beculorum, Amen, 


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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 361 

repository, laboratory, and other convenieiices for 
making experiments, and to found and endow a per- 
petual physico-mechanick lecture, of the nature of 
what he himself read. But though he was often 
solicited by his friends, to put his designes down in 
writing, and make his will as to the disposal of his 
estate to his own liking in the time of his health ; and 
after, when himself and all thought his end drew 
near, yet he could never be prevail'd with to perfect 
it, still procrastinating it, till at last this great design 
prov'd an airy phantom and vanish'd into nothing. 
Thus he died at last, without any will and testament 
that could be found." "It is indeed," adds his bio- 
grapher, "a melancholy reflection, that while so many 
rich and great men leave considerable sums for found- 
ing hospitals, and the like pious uses, few since Sir 
Thomas Gresham should do anything of this kind 
for the promoting of learning, which, no doubt, would 
be as much for the good of the nation, and glory of 
God, as the other of relieving the poor." 

It may appear singular that Hooke, who, when an 
officer of the Royal Society, was almost clamorous 
for an increase of salary, and, at a time when the 
Society's funds were extremely low, prayed that he 
might be allowed six months' time to consider the 
resolution of Council respecting the payment of his 
salary in books", should talk so largely of building a 
handsome edifice for the Society. ^ That he had the 
means to do so was, however, certain ; for a large iron 
chest was found after his death, " locked down with a 

^ It will be remembered, that for some years previously to his 
death be received 10/. per annum from the Society for the use of 
his lodgings in Gresham College. 


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362 HISTORY OF [1700—5. 

key ia it, and a date of the time, showing it to have 
been so shut up for above thirty years, in which were 
contained many thousand pounds in gold and silver*^." 
It is right to add, that Hooke was extremely parsi- 
monious, scarcely allowing himself the common neces- 
saries of life. 

His errors and frailties were alike forgotten over 
his grave, to which he was attended by all the mem* 
bers of the Royal Society in London at the time of 
his decease, and who unanimously lamented him as 
one of their greatest ornaments, and promoters of sci- 
ence. His energy was truly astonishing, and although 
this fact is most amply confirmed by his posthumous 
works, we must examine the Journal and Register- 
books of the Royal Society to become fully aware 
of the labours of this great philosopher. They are a 
wonderful monument of his mathematical and me- 
chanical genius; for there is hardly a page, during 
many years, in which his name does not appear, in 
connection with new inventions. 

In 1701 the Trustees of Gresham College having 
obtained the consent of all the Professors with the 
exception of Hooke, brought a Bill into Parliament 
for rebuilding the College, upon the plea '' that it had • 
become old and ruinous, and the repairs thereof very 
expensive ; but the said College standing upon a con- 

^ Waller's Xi/», p. 13. It was as one of the city surveyoTS 
that Hooke acquired the greater part of his estate. Dr. Waller 
says : '' He might by this place acquire a considerable estate, every 
particular person being in haste to haye his concerns expedited; 
so that, as I have been inform'd, he had no rest early and late from 
persons soliciting to haye their grounds set out, which, without any 
fraud or iigustice, deserv'd a due recompense in so fatiguing an 


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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 363 

siderable quantity of ground, and great part of it 
lying waste, good improTement might be made by 
rebuilding it." The Bill passed through the Com- 
mons» but at the second reading in the House of 
Lords it was thrown out upon the petition of Hooke, 
who had opposed it from the beginning in the strong- 
est manner. Shortly after Hooke's death, the Trus- 
tees, who were exceedingly annoyed at the loss of 
their Bill, again brought it forward. Before intro- 
ducing it into the House of Commons, they acquainted 
the Royal Society that they were desirous of ^* accom- 
modating them with conveniences for their meetings, 
repository, and library." The Council " Ordered their 
humble thanks to be given to the Conunittee by the 
President, and desired Sir Christopher Wren that he 
would please to take the trouble of viewing the 
design and project, and consider what accommoda- 
tions the Society wanted, and to resolve by changing 
or purchasing ground fit for their affairs, to add to 
what the Committees offer for their accommodation^." 

Wren accordingly examined the design, and drew 
up a document entitled. Proposals for huUding a 
House for the Royal Society : — 

"It is proposed as absolutely necessary for the con- 
tinuing the Boyall Society at Gresham Colledge, that 
they should have a place so seated in the said ground, 
that the coaches of the Members, (some of which are of 
very great quality) may have easy access, and that the 
building consist of these necessary parts. 

" 1. A good cellar under ground, so high above it 
as to have good lights for the use of an elaboratory, and 

^ Council-minutes, Vol. n. p. 120. 


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364 HISTORY OF [1700 — 5. 

"2. The story above may have a fair room and 

a large closet. 

"3. A place for a repository over them. 

" 4. A place for the Library over the repository. 

"6. A place covered with lead for observing the 

"6. A good stair-case from bottom to top. 

**7. A reasonable area behind it, to give light to 
the back-rooms. 

" All which may be comprised in a space of ground 
40 foot in front, and 60 foot deep*^" 

In consequence, however, of the insertion of a 
clause in the new Bill, " that the Trustees should be 
obliged and required to build these houses, hall, and 
almshouses, for the lecturers and almsfolks, within 
five years from the passing of this Act, upon the 
penalty of two thousand pounds," exception was 
taken, and the bill was rejected by the Commons on 
its first reading*®. All prospect of procuring better 
accommodation being thus at an end, the Council con- 
sidered the expediency of removing from the College. 
At their Meeting, held on the 21 April, 17^93, it was 
" Resolved, that the Society should purchase a place 
of abode for themselves ; and it was ordered that a 
Committee, consisting of Mr. Isted, Mr. Hill, Dr. 
Tyson, Sir John Hoskyns, Dr. Sloane, and the Trea- 
surer, should consider of a place to build on, or buy, 
and lay their thoughts before the Society." 

^ The original of this document is preserved in the Arcliives 
of the Royal Society. 

^ Stows London^ Second Appendix, Vol. iv. p. 22, edit 1720. 
Commom' Journals^ Vol. xiv. p. 426. It would appear by the 
petition that the Mercers' Company were considerably embarrassed. 


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From this period until the Society removed, the 
Council-minutes make frequent mention of the laboiu*s 
of the Committee, who reported on various localities 
and houses, which appeared suitable for the purposes 
of the Society. Amongst these was a house in White- 
hall, and ground for building in the Savoy, and near 
St. James's Park. The Duke of Bedford also offered 
the Society "an estate of inheritance, or a lease of 
ground for 61 years;" but as these proposals did not 
meet the approbation of the Council, the Society 
meanwhile continued to occupy their apartments in 
Gresham College. 

At the Anniversary in 1703 Lord Somers retired 
from the Presidency, and Sir Isaac Newton was elected 
to this high office, which even in those early days of 
the Society was regarded as conferring great honour 
and distinction upon the individual selected to fill it. 
In this case, the election was alike honourable to the 
Society and to Newton. It is not a little remarkable 
that he was chosen into the Council for the first time, 
and elected President, on the same day» The cause 
of his not having been called earlier to the Councils 
of the Society, arose probably from the jealousy of 
Hooke, which betrayed itself in so melancholy a man- 
ner for some years previous to his decease, that it is 
hardly possible to conceive how Newton could have sat 
at the. same board with him. It is well known that 
Newton decided not to publish his Optics during the 
lifetime of Hooke; tolerably conclusive evidence of 
his wish not to expose himself to the attacks of the 
irritable philosopher'^, of whom Biot said, in the 

^ In the Pre&ce to the Optics^ written a short time after 



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words which had before been applied by D'Alembert 
to Fontaine, Hooke est mort ; — c'itait un homme de 
gSnie, et un mauvais homme ; la SociStS y gagne plus 
que la gSomSt^ne w'y perd ! 

Hooke's death, Newton says : ^^ To avoid being engaged in disputes 
about these matters, I have hitherto delayed the printing." 

Manor-house, Woolsthorpb, 

the bibth-place op sir isaac newton; 

Showing the Solar DiaU which he made when a boy. 

Digitized byCjOOQlC 


Memoir of Sir Isaac NeiF^ton — His constant attendance at the 
Meetings — Presents his Optu^ to the Society — Prince George 
of Denmark elected — Requested by the Society to print flam- 
steed's OhierwUiarU'—'He consents to defray the Expense- 
Committee appointed to superintend the Publication — flam- 
steed's Dissatisfaction — Painful Dispute — ^He bums the Historia 
CoelestU — Prints a more perfect edition at his own expens&»- 
Newton's Propositions for Financial Improyements — ^Papin's 
Proposal to construct Steam-vessel — ^Edinbnigh Philosophical 
Society — Death of Sir G. Copley — His Bequest— Devoted 
at first to Experiments — Gold Medal afterwards adopted — 
Awarded to Dr. Franklin-— Mercers' Company give notice 
of their intention to withhold Apartments — Petition to the 
Queen for Land in Westminster — ^Application to Trustees of 
Cotton Library — Purchase of Dr. Brown's House in Crane 
Court — Objections ij some of the Fellows — Proceedings of 
Council with respect to the Removal — Fiist Meeting in Crane 
Court — ^Regret of the Gresham Professors on the Departure of 
the Society. 


IT has devolved on me, in the course of this work, 
to notice the principal discoveries of Newton, 
which, as already shown, were communicated to the 
Royal Society. To these, therefore, we need only 
slightly allude, the object of this memoir being to 
give such an outline of the life of their author, as 
may refresh the memory of the reader, who will see 
that, amidst occupations of great care and respon- 
sibility, which would alone have engrossed all the 
time and thoughts of an ordinary mind, the greatest 
of all philosophers found opportunities to attend not 
only to onerous public duties, but also to the aflfairs 


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368 HISTORY OF [1700 — 5. 

and interests of the Royal Society, over which he pre- 
sided for twenty-five years. 

The mind of Newton has been happily and popu- 
larly compared by Professor De Morgan, to "a person 
who is superior to others in every kind of athletic 
exercise; who can outrun his competitors with a 
greater weight than any one of them can lift stand- 
ing*." Upwards of a century has passed away, and 
the name of Newton still remains amongst us, ''an 
object of unqualified wonder," a name to be pro- 
nounced with reverence. 

Isaac Newton was born at Woolsthorpe, near 
Grantham, in Lincolnshire, on the 25th December, 
1642, exactly one year after the death of Galileo. 
He was a puny and weakly infant^ gi'^ing little pro- 
mise of a vigorous maturity or prolonged life. Ac- 
cording to his statement, made at the Herald's Office, 
his great grandfather's father was John Newton, of 
Westby, in Lincolnshire. 

His father, Isaac Newton, married the daughter of 
James Ayscough, of Market Overton, in Rutlandshire. 
He died before the birth of his son, the only issue of 
the marriage. Mrs. Newton contracted a second alli- 
ance with the Rev. Barnabas Smith, rector of North 
Witham, and confided her son, who was then about 
three years old, to the care of his maternal grand- 
mother, by whom he was sent to a day-school, and at 
the age of twelve to the public school at Grantham. 
He lodged in this town at the house of Mr. Clarke, 
an apothecary, where he met Miss Storey, daughter 
of Dr. Storey of Buckminster, and for whom he 
formed a friendship, which grew into a warmer feel- 

lAfe of Newton^ p. 106. 


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1700 — 5.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 369 

ing. Their union was only prevented by their 
poverty. Miss Storey was afterwards twice married. 
The decease of Mrs. Newton's second husband in 1656, 
caused her to return to Woolsthorpe, and, in that 
year, her son was taken from school, where. he had 
risen to the highest form, and distinguished himself 
by his mechanical contrivances, and brought home to 
assist in the management of the farm. 

It was soon seen that agricultural pursuits were 
utterly opposed to his literary and studious habits, 
which increasing years further confirmed. Mrs. Smith, 
in consequence, wisely resolved on sending him back 
to Grantham school, where he remained for some 
time actively engaged in academical studies. By the 
advice of his maternal uncle, the Reverend W. Ays- 
cough, he was sent to Cambridge', and admitted on 
the 5th June, 1660, into Trinity College. 

According to the College-books, he was sub-sizar 
in 1661, scholar in 1664, Bachelor of Arts in 1665, 
Junior Fellow in 1667, Master of Arts and Senior 
Fellow in 1668, and Lucasian Professor of Mathe- 
matics in 1669. The chair of the latter had been 
filled by Dr. Barrow, one of the greatest mathema- 
ticians of his age, by whom it was resigned in favour 
of Newton. 

Some of the new Professor's discoveries had been 
made anteriorly to this period. In 1663 — 4, he dis- 
covered the celebrated Binomial Theorem. " In 1665 

' Biot, in his Life of Newton^ relates that his uncle Ayscough 
found him under a hedge absorbed in the solution of a mathema- 
tical problem. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine^ who states 
that when a boy he received great kindness from Newton, gives 
this story, with the unimportant difference of the scene of Ne¥rton's 
labours being a hay-loft instead of a hedge. See Yol. for \^T2. 

VOL. I. B B 


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370 HISTORY OP [1700 — 5. 

he axrived at his discoveries in series, and substan* 
tially at his method of fluxions:" and in 1666 he 
made his great discovery of the unequal refrangibility 
of the rays of light. 

In the last of these years he retired to Wools- 
thorpe, on account of the plague which was then 
raging; and there he began to reflect more particu- 
larly upon the nature of the force by which bodies at 
the earth's surface are drawn towards its centre ; and 
to conjecture that the same force might possibly 
extend to the moon, with a sufficient intensity to 
counteract the centrifugal force of that satellite, and 
retain it in its orbit about the earth. 

He returned to Cambridge when the plague sub- 
sided, but did not pursue his hypothesis further for 
several years. "The subject," says Professor De 
Morgan, "was not resumed till 1679; not, as com- 
monly stated, because he then first became acquainted 
with Picard's measure of the earth (we think Pro- 
fessor Rigaud has shown this), but because leisure 
then served, and some discussions on a kindred spi- 
rit at the Royal Society had awakened his attention 
to the question. In 1679 he repeated the trial with 
Picard's measure of the earth ; and it is said, that 
when he saw that the desired agreement was likely to 
appear, he became so nervous that he could not con- 
tinue the calculation, but was obliged to intrust it to 
a friend. From that moment the great discovery 
must be dated ; the connexion of his speculations on 
motion with the actual phenomena of the universe 
was established'." 

The truth of this splendid discovery of Gravitation 

' Li/e, p. 86. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 371 

has been lately confirmed in a wonderful manner. A 
new planet, bj Newton's laws, has been computed with 
unerring accuracy into visible existence. " There is 
nothing," observes Mr. Airy, " in the whole history of 
astronomy, I had almost said in the whole history of 
science, comparable to this\'' 

Pursuing the chronological order of events, we 
find that in 1671 Newton sent his reflecting telescope 
to the Royal Society. In 1671 — 2 he was elected a 
Fellow, and during the succeeding years made seve* 
ral communications to the Society. In 1686 the 
manuscript of the Principia was presented to the 
Society, and published in 1687. In 1688 he was 
returned to Parliament^ as one of the representatives 
of his University. He was again returned in 1703, 
but lost his election in 1705. He does not appear to 
have taken any conspicuous part in the debates of the 
House. In 1692 occurs the curious episode in his 
history, which led to the report and belief abroad 
that he had become insane. 

The beautiful, but traditionary story of his dog 
Diamond having overturned a lighted taper upon his 
desk, and set fire to several precious manuscripts, 
and the calmness of Newton under the circumstances, 
is well known. " But," observes Mr. De Morgan, " the 
truth, as appears by a private Diai^ of his acquaint- 
ance, Mr. de la Pryme, recently discovered, is, that in 
February 1692 he left a light burning when he went 
to chapel, which, by unknown means, destroyed his 
papers, and among them a large work on Optics, con- 
taining the experiments and researches of twenty 
years. When Mr. Newton came from chapel, and 

* Proceedmgs of Astronmiical Society, Vol. vn. p. 121. 



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372 HISTORY OF [1700 — 5. 

had seen what was done, everybody thought that he 
would have run mad ; he was so troubled thereat, 
that he was not himself for a month after. Such 
phrases reported, gave rise to a memorandum in the 
Diary of the celebrated Huyghens (the first foreigner 
who understood and accepted the theory of Gravita- 
tion), stating that he had been told that Newton had 
become insane either from study, or from the loss of 
his laboratory and manuscripts. by fire; that remedies 
had been applied, by means of which he had so far 
recovered, as to be then beginning again to under- 
stand his own Principia. That Newton was in ill 
health in 1692 and 1693 is known, but his letters to 
Dr. Bentley on the Deity, written during that period, 
are proof that he had not lost his mind^" 

In 1695 Newton was appointed Warden, and in 
1699 Master, of^he Mint. For these offices he was in- 
debted to Charles Montague, afterwards Lord Halifax. 

*'J''avais cru, dans majeunesse^ says Voltaire, ^'que 
Newton avaitfait sa fortune par son extreme mSrite. 
Je nC^tais imaging que la cour, et la viUe de Londres 
Vavaient nomm6 par acclamation grand mattre des 
monnaies du royaume. Point du tout. Isaa^ Nefw- 
ton avait une nidce assez aimahle nommie Madame 
Conduit^ eUe plut heaucoup au grand tr^sorier Ha- 
lifax. Le calcul infinitesimal et la gravitation ne 
lui auraient servi de rien sans unejolie niice\'' 

The reader will scarcely arrive at Voltaire's flippant 
conclusion, which is not in keeping with his general 
remarks upon Newton and England, contained in the 
very volume from which the preceding passage is taken. 

Honours were now rapidly showered upon the 

* Life, p. 84. • Diet. Phil, Tom. iv. p. dl. 

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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 373 

great philosopher, his claims to which were fully 

In 1699 he was elected a Foreign Member of the 
French Academy. In 1703 he was chosen President 
of the Royal Society, an office to which he was annu- 
ally re-elected during the remaining twenty-five years 
of his life. On the 16th April, 1705, he was knighted 
at Cambridge by Queen Anne, who always treated 
him with marked esteem. In 1709 he entrusted to 
Roger Cotes the preparation of the second edition of 
the PHncipia^ which appeared in 1713. 

On the Accession of George I. to the throne, New- 
ton became an object of interest at Court, and was 
honoured by the friendship of the Princess of Wales, 
who corresponded with Leibnitz. At her recjuest he 
drew up a Paper containing his ideas on chronology, 
which was first printed surreptitiously at Paris. In 
1722 he became subject to a disorder in the urinary 
organs, accompanied by cough and gout. His health 
declined gradually, and he died on the 20th March, 
1727, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. 

His body was interred in Westminster Abbey, and 
was honoured by a magnificent funeral. In 1731, a 
monument to his memory, designed by Kent and 
sculptured by Rysbrack, was erected in the Abbey ; and 
in the same year, a medal was struck in his honour, 
bearing on one side his head, with the motto Fdias cog- 
noscere catisas^ and on the reverse, a personification 
of science displaying the solar system. In 1755 the 
beautiful statue of Newton, from the chisel of Roubilliac, 
was erected in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge. 

The Royal Society possess several most interesting 
relics of Sir Isaac Newton, which are duly noticed in 
a subsequent part of this work. 


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374 HISTORY OF [1700 — 5. 

In contemplating the life of this great man, our 
feelings must be those of profound admiration of his 
high qualities, and gratitude to Almighty Providence, 
who has permitted so good a being, endowed with 
the highest mental faculties, to have lived before us, 
an example and model for all succeeding ages. His 
faults and imperfections were so few, as to be justly 
compared to the spots which feebly obscure the 
summer sun's noon-tide brilliancy. His intellectual 
capacity seems almost superhuman. " Even," says Dr. 
Whewell, " with his transcendent powers, to do what 
he did, was almost irreconcileable with the common 
conditions of human life, and required the utmost 
devotion of thought, energy of effort, and steadiness 
of willT — ^the strongest character, as well as the 
highest endowments, which belong to man^" 

And yet, how humbly he thought of himself and 
of his stupendous labours, best appears in the beautiful 
words which he is reported to have uttered a short 
time previous to his death. " I know not what I may 
appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have 
been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and 
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother 
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the 
great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." 

Numerous and ready were the pens and voices 
which mourned his decease and chronicled his glory. 
The lines of Thomson in the poem on his death are 
amongst the most beautiful : 

"Say, yo who best can tell, ye happy few, 
Who saw him in the softest lights of life, 
All unwithheld, indulging to his friends 

' Historic of the Inductive Sciences^ Vol. n. p. 193. 


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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 375 

The vast unborrowed treasures of his mind. 

Oh, speak the wondrous man! how mild, how calm, 

How greatly humble, how divinely good. 

How firm established on eternal Truth! 

Fervent in doing well, with every nerve. 

Still pressing on, forgetful of the past, 

And panting for perfection; far above 

Those little cares and visionary joys^ 

That 80 perplex the fond impassioned heart 

Of ever-cheated^ ever-trusting man." 

Such was Sir Isaac Newton, and well may the Royal 
Society reflect with pride and satisfaction that he was 
their President for a quarter of a century. 

From the period of Newton's election until within 
a few weeks of his decease, the Journal and Council- 
books show that he presided at almost every meeting 
of the Fellows : so anxious indeed was he to (lo this, 
that a short time after his election, finding that his 
duties at the Mint interfered with his attendance at 
the Royal Society, he caused the day of Meeting to be 
changed from Wednesday to Thursday, in order that 
he might devote his undivided time on the latter day 
to the Society. 

On the 16th February, 1703—4, the Journal-book 
records, that " Mr, Newton presented his Opticks to 
the Society. Mr. Halley was desired to peruse it, 
and give an abstract of it," This work contains his 
researches on the infiewion of light, made long before 
this period, but which he could not be prevailed on 
to publish during the lifetime of Hooke. The Optics 
was first published in English, and afterwards trans- 
lated into Latin by Dr. Samuel Clarke. Newton was 
so much pleased with this translation, that he pre- 
sented Dr. Clarke with 500^,, as a testimony of his 
acknowledgments : many editions of the work itself^ 
and of the translation, rapidly succeeded each other, 
both in England and on the Continent, 


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376 HISTORY OF [1700—5. 

At the Anniversary in 1704, Prince George of 
Denmark was elected a Fellow of the Society. The 
Journal-book states, that "the Society were extremely 
pleased with the honour the Prince did them, in 
suffering them to choose him a member," and the 
Council desired " the President and Secretary to wait 
on the Prince with the Statute-book, to have the 
honour of his subscription." 

At the period of the Prince's election, the Society 
were very anxious to publish Flamsteed's Observa^ 
tionSy and were only prevented by the expense, which 
was estimated at 863/. Under these circumstances, 
they brought the matter before Prince George, pray- 
ing his favourable consideration. The result was the 
following letter from Mr. Clarke to the President, 
written by order of the Prince. 

** December 11, 1704. 
•' Sir, 

"The Prince has perused the estimate of 
the intended Hishria OceUstU BrUanmectj which you pre- 
sented him. His Royal Highness is persuaded of Mr. 
Flamsteed's fitness for a work of this nature, and being 
unwilling that the Obiervatians, designed for the benefit 
of navigation, and encouraged so weU in the beginning, 
should want any necessary assistance to bring them to 
perfection, he has been pleased to command me to 
desire yourself, Mr. Roberts, Sir C. Wren, Dr. Gregory, 
Dr. Arbuthnot, and others of your Society as you think 
proper, and will share the trouble with you, to inspect 
Mr. Flamsteed's papers, and consider what is fit for 
the press ; and when His Royal Highness knows your 
opinions, you may be sure he will do any thing that will 
conduce to the making them of use to the public. 

"I am, &c., 

"Geo. Clarke." 


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1700 — 5.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 377 

It appears by Flamsteed's history of his own life, 
that some friend of his had " acquainted the Prince 
with his performances," and in another place he men- 
tions the '* Prince's inclination to make him easier in 
his work.** His Royal Highness was consequently 
not wholly unprepared for the application made to 
him by the Society. 

In conformity with the Prince's wish, a Committee 
consisting of the persons mentioned in Mr. Clarke's 
letter examined Flamsteed's manuscripts, and re- 
ported that " all the Observations, together with the 
two Catalogues of the Fixed Stars in Latin, are proper 
to come abroad." " This set of Observations," they 
add, ** we repute the fullest and completest that has 
ever yet been made; and as it tends to the per- 
fection of astronomy and navigation, so, if it should 
be lost, the loss would be irreparable ; and we have 
no prospect that a work so expensive will ever see 
the light, unless your Highness will please to be at the 
charge of publishing it." The report bears the date 
of 23rd January, 1704 — 5, and soon after the Obser- 
vations were sent to press. 

It would be foreign to the object of this work, to 
enter into the unhappy contentions which accom- 
panied the printing of the Historia Coelestis. It is 
painful at all times to witness the failings of poor 
humanity, and doubly so, when they are exhibited 
by philosophers, whom we wish to regard as bright 
examples worthy of all imitation. The rupture be- 
tween Newton and Flamsteed, attended by suspicions 
which Mr. Baily has well designated as *' unaccount- 
able, unwarrantable, and extremely revolting,'' is a 
melancholy instance, that even giants in intellect are 
not fre6 from the failings of their less gifted bre- 


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378 HISTOBY OF [1700 — 5. 

thren^. It is sufficient to state here, that a quarrel 
arose between Newton and Flamsteed, respecting 
the printing of the latter's Observations^ which, put- 
ting aside all private considerations, had the effect of 
delaying the publication of the Historia Ccelestis 
for several years, and rendering it incorrect when 

" Tbe reader desirous of examimBg into some of the particulars 
of this unhappy dispute, and the proceedings of the Royal Society 
relative to it, is referred to Baily's Account of Flanuteed. In 
a curious and interesting communication, made by Maskelyne to 
the Society, upon the Greenwich Observatory and the Olter^ 
vationsj inserted in 25th volume of the Journal-book, he says : 
^^ Mr. Flamsteed the first Astronomer Royal's tenaciousness in 
witholding his observations, not only from the public, but even 
from his learned friends, a long while deprived Newton of the 
means of establishing his theory of the moon; and might have 
done so longer if that great man, in conjunction with other 
learned ornaments of this Society, had not obtained an order 
from superior authority, for selecting and publishing such of the 
observations made at the Royal Observatory as they should think 
proper." This was written when the facts were fresh in men s 

* The Historia Coslestis was published in 1712, but in a form so 
distasteful to Flamsteed, that he collected as many copies as he 
could of the edition, and burnt them. A copy is preserved in the 
Library of the Royal Society, which was presented by Sir Isaac 
Newton. Another exists in the Bodleian Library, in which is written 
the following memorandum by Sir R. Walpole: ^^ Exemplar hoc 
ffistoriw Ccelestis quod in thesauraria Me^ia adservabatur^ et cum 
paucis aliis titaverat iram et ignem Flamstedianum, Bihliotheca 
Bodleiana debet konorahili admodum viro R. Walpole, 1725." In 
1725 Flamsteed published at his own expense a correct edition of 
the Historia Coelestis, in three folio volumes. ^' The referees," says 
Mr. Baily, 'instead of printing his observations in detail, as practised 
at the present day, selected such only as tended to show the place 
of the moon or a planet when they passed the meridian : rejecting 
all the other observations of the stars, and the means of verifying 
and correcting the catalogue, as totally useless- This might be 


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1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 379 

In 1706 Sir Isaac Newton brought the following 
propositions before the Council, which were approved 
and passed into laws : — 

" That every person, newly elected a Member of the 
Royal Society, do, before his admission, pay his admis- 
sion-money, and give a bond to pay his weekly contri- 
bution, excepting Foreigners. 

^* That no person be capable of being a Member of 
the Council, who hath not given bond to pay his weekly 
contributions, or who hath not paid them till the Quarter- 
day then last past.^^ 

At a subsequent Meeting of Council, it was ''Ordered 
that the Professors of Gresham College may be ad- 
mitted Fellows of the Royal Society without paying 
admission-money, or giving bonds to pay their weekly 
contribution^®; and a few months later, the Officers 
of the Society were exonerated from the payment of 
their subscription. These laws proved highly bene- 
ficial to the Society, and were the means of causiDg 
the subscriptions to be paid much more regularly. 

pardonable where it was an object to save expense, but ought not 
to have been adopted where no such excuse was to be pleaded. 
Fortunately for the science^ Flamsteed viewed the subject in a 
more comprdiensive manner; and, to show his decided and fixed 
opinion upon this matter, he burnt the spurious edition, published 
at the expense of government, as soon as he got it into his pos- 
session, and at hU own cost printed a correct transcript of all his 
observations/' Life, p. 98. 

I may add, that in 1798, Miss Caroline Herschel compiled a 
catalogue of stars, taken from Flamsteed's observations, and not 
inserted in the British CaUUogtie^ with a collection of errata in 
the second volume of the Historia Coelestis, This volume was 
printed at the expense of the Royal Society. 

^^ The Professors were very grateful for this liberality on the 
part of the Council. 


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380 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

On the 11th February, 1708, Dr. Papin submitted 
a proposition of great interest to the Society, " con- 
cerning a new-invented boat to be rowed by oars, 
moved with heat." At the two ensuing meetings the 
matter was again brought forward, accompanied by 
letters of recommendation from Leibnitz. 
Papin's proposal is thus recorded: — 
** It is certain that it is a thing of great consequence 
to be able to apply the force of fire for to save the 
labour of men; so that the Parliament of England 
granted, some years ago, a patent to Esquire Savery, 
for an Engine he had invented for that purpose ; and 
his Highness Charles, Landgrave of Hesse, hath also 
caused several costly experiments to be made for the 
same designe. But the thing may be done several ways, 
and the Machine tryed at Cassell differs from the other in 
several particulars, which may afford a great difference 
in the quantity of the effect. It will be good, therefore, 
to find out clearly what can be done best in that matter, 
that those which will work about it may surely know 
the best way they are to choose. I am fully persuaded^ 
that Esquire Savery is so well minded for the publick 
good, that he will desire as much as any body that 
this may be done. 

"I do therefore offer, with all dutifull respect, to 
make here an Engine, after the same manner that has 
been practised at Cassell, and to fit it so that it may be 
applyed for the numnff of ships. This Engine may be 
tryed for an hour or more, together with some one made 
after the Saveryan method. The quantity of the effect 
should be computed both by the quantity of water 
driven out of each Machine, and by the height the 
said water could ascend to. And to know the said 
height, we should use the method advised by the HIus- 


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1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 381 

trious President ; viz, to try to throw bullets by the said 
Engine, with the inclination of forty-five degrees, and 
reckon that the said height is half the horizontal distance 
to which the bullets will be driven ; and this would be 
the rule so well for one as for the other Machine. 

*'I wish I were in a condition to make the said 
Cassellian Engine at my own charges ; but the state of 
my affairs doth not permit me to imdertake it, unless the 
Eoyal Society be pleased to bear the expense of the 
Vessel called ' Retort/ in the description printed at Cas- 
sell ; but after that I will lay out what is necessary for 
the rest, and I will be content to lose that expense, in 
case the contrivance of the Landgrave of Cassell doth 
not as much again as that of Esquire Savery ; but in case 
the effect be such as I do promise it, I do humbly 
beg that my expense, time, and pains, may be paid, 
and I reckon this to amount to 15 pounds sterling. If 
the Royal Society be pleased to honour me with their 
commands upon such conditions, the first thing to be 
done is to let me see the place where the Machine must 
be set, and I will work for it with all possible diligence ; 
and I hope the effect will yet be much greater than I 
have sayd".'* 

The Society appear to have had some difficulty in 
arriving at any decision on the subject, which was 
eventually referred to the President, who reported : 
" if the pump proposed by Dr. Papin can spout out 
400 lbs of water every other second minute with the 
swiftness of 128 Paris-feet in a second, it will spout it 
up 100 yards high, or cast it to the distance of 200 
yards upon level ground, and do this 30 times in a 

" Register, Vol. ix. p. lOa 


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882 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

minute. Whether this can be done, is to be known 
only by experience ; and if it can be done, I do not see 
but that such pump may be successfully applied to 
several uses, as the making artificial fountains, to the 
draining of water out of trenches, morasses, mines, 
&c., in difficult cases, and to the towing and moving 
of ships and galleys^ by the recoil of the Engine and 
force of the stream duly applied. But the force and 
uses of the Engine must be learned gradually by 
trying the simplest and cheapest experiments first; 
and reasoning from those experiments." Neither the 
Journal nor Register-books contain any account of 
experiments having been made to test Papin's scheme, 
in consequence, probably, of the expense which would 
have attended them. 

Papin, it is clear, conceived that steam might be 
employed to propel ships by paddles ; for, as early as 
1690, in a Paper, published in the Acta Eruditorum^ 
he says, " without doubt, oars, fixed to an axis, could 
be most conveniently made to revolve by our tubes. 
It would only be necessary to furnish the piston-rod 
with teeth, which might act on a toothed wheel pro- 
perly fitted to it, and which, being fixed on the axis 
to which the oars were attached, would communicate 
a rotary motion to it^^" 

These communications of Papin anticipate, by 
several years, the patent taken out by Jonathan 
Hulls" for the same object. 

12 P. 412. 

" Hulls took out a patent in 1736, for "carrying vessels and 
ships out of, and into, any harbour, port, or river, against wind and 
tide, or in a calm." They were to be towed by a steam-boat 
furnished with a pair of wheels. 


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1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 383 

In 1706 the Society enlarged their scientific cor- 
respondence, by entering into communication with a 
small philosophical association at Edinburgh, whose 
objects appear in the annexed letter from Dr. Preston 
to Dr. Sloane ; 

" Our College in this City had almost dwindled into 
nothing, after the death of Sir Andrew Balfour, by their 
divisions ; but now that they are come to a good un- 
derstanding, they begin to make a greater figure ; we 
have of late purchased a piece of ground within the 
City, where we design a house and physick-garden ; but 
at present we content ourselves with a little convenient 
hall for meeting, a room for a library, and repository : 
our repository is but three or four weeks' standing, but 
it has increased considerably in that time, and we shall 
want your assistance now and then. We have also 
begun a mrtuaso meeting every Monday, and discourse 
of philosophic matters: it begins to be pretty well 
frequented, and Dr. Gregory was pleased to give us his 
presence at one, before he took journey." 

Several valuable papers were received from this 
new association, as also from the Dublin Society, 
whose meetings, after having been discontinued for 
some years, were resumed about this period. Mr. 
Molyneux's letter, communicating this pleasing intel- 
ligence, is worthy of being preserved here. It is 
addressed to Dr. Sloane : 

" The kind acceptance your illustrious Royal Society 
was formerly pleased to show the weak endeavours of 
the Dublin Society, has made them again venture to 
beg the favour of your correspondence, now that their 
meetings are revived under the protection and favor of 
our excellent Lord Lieutenant. The enclosed are two 


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384 HISTORY OP [1705 — 10. 

very odd accounts of the effect of lightning, which we 
thought might prove acceptable to you. The undeserved 
honour our Society has lately done me, in commanding 
me to bear the office of their Secretary, I am never 
more sensible of my little ability to go through, than 
when I compare myself with him that holds that place 
with the illustrious Royal Society. Though we have 
done but little yet that may claim a right to the favour 
of your correspondence, yet give us leave to beg it, in 
hopes that possibly one day the good effects of your 
encouragement may make us not ungrateful children to 
that great body, whom we should be glad to call our 
favouring and protecting parent, and for whom we have 
the greatest respect." 

In 1709 the Society lost one of their oldest 
Fellows, Sir Godfrey Copley, of Sprotborough, York- 
shire, Bart. 

In his will, dated October 14, 1704, and proved in 
the Prerogative Court, April 11, 1709, he bequeathed 
to Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., and Abraham Hill, Esq., 
the sum of "One hundred pounds, in trust for the 
Royal Society of London for improving natural 
knowledge, to be laid out in experiments, or other- 
wise, for the benefit thereof, as they shall direct and 

There is, perhaps, no name of any Fellow of the 
Royal Society more generally known than that of Sir 
Godfrey Copley, which may be attributed to the 

^^ The Council have been censured for throwing the medal 
arising from this bequest open to foreigners. It is however mani- 
fest by the terms of the bequest, that Sir G. Copley's great object 
was the encouragement and advancement of science either at home 
or abroad. 


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1705 — 10.] TUE ROYAL SOCIETY. 385 

medal bearing his name, the most honourable in the 
power of the Society to bestow, originating in the 
bequest above mentioned. This medal, not unaptly 
termed, by Sir Humphry Davy, "the ancient olive- 
crown of the Royal Society," has been awarded, for 
upwards of a hundred years, to the authors of brilliant 
discoveries ; and there is hardly a ^name eminent in 
science that does not appear as the recipient of this 
lionourable testimonial of appreciated merit. Although 
Sir Godfrey Copley's legacy was received shortly after 
his decease, it was not until 1736 that the intere3t 
was applied to the purchase of a medal. Previously 
to this period it was given to Dr. Desaguliers, Curator 
to the Society, for various experiments made before 

^ John Theophilus Desaguliers was born in 1683, at Rochelle^ 
from whence he was brought to England by his father while an 
in&nt, on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. He studied at Christ 
Church College, Oxford, where he took the degree of LL.D., and 
jBUCceeded Dr. KeiU in reading lectures on experimental philo-p 
Bophy. In 1712 he settled in London, where he introduced the 
reading of public lectures on such subjects; which he continued 
during the rest of his life, and frequently read lectures before the 
King and Royal Family. In 1714 he was elected a Fellow of the 
Society, but was excused from paying the subscription, on account 
of the number of experiments which he shewed at the Meet- 
ings. He was subsequently elected to the office of Curator, and 
communicated a vast number of curious and valuable Papers be- 
tween the years 1714 and 1743, which are printed in the Tran9a4> 
turns. Besides those numerous communications he published several 
works of his own, particularly his large Course of Experimental 
Philosophy, in two 4to volumes, being the substance of his public 
lectures, and abounding with descriptions of the most useful 
machines and philosophical instruments. He acted in the capacity 
of Curator to within a year of his decease, which occurred in 1744. 
It does not appear that he received a fixed salary, but was remu« 
nerated according to the number of experiments and communica- 

VOL. I. CO tions 


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386 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

At a Council-meeting on the 10th November, 1736, 
Mr. Folkes : — 

" Proposed a thought to render Sir Godfrey Copley's 
Donation for an annual Experiment, more beneficial 
than it is at present ; which was to convert the value of 
it into a Medal, or other honorary Prize, to be bestowed 
on the person whose experiment should be best approved : 
by which means he apprehended a laudable emulation 
might be excited among men of genius to try their in- 
vention, who in all probability may never be moved for 
the sake of lucre.^ 

In consequence of this proposition, the Council 
"Resolved to strike a gold Medal of the value of 
five pounds, to bear the Arms of the Society^*; and 
that the same should be given as a voluntary reward, 
or honorary favour, for the best experiment produced 
within the year, and bestowed in such a manner as to 
avoid any envy or disgust in rivalship." In 1736 the 
latter clause was repealed, and it was " Resolved, to 
award the medal to the author of the most important 
scientific discovery, or contribution to science, by 
experiment or otherwise." The awards were made 
on the nomination of Sir Hans Sloane and Mr. Hill, 
the trustees under the will of Sir Godfrey Copley, to 
the time of Mr. Hill's death, and afterwards on the 
nomination of Sir Hans Sloane alone, as surviving 
trustee, until his decease in 1753. The adjudication 
then devolved on the President and Council for the 

tions which he made to the Society, sometimes receiving a donation 
of 10/. and occasionally 30/., 40/., or 50/. 

^^ It was resolved that the weight of the Medal should be 
one ounce and two pennyweights of fine gold : a representation of 
it appears at the end of this Chapter. 


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1705 — 10.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 387 

time being ; and it is gratifying to find that the first 
award, under these circumstances, was made to Dr. 

The time was now approaching for the Society to 
assume a more independent existence; or, in the 
words of their President, Sir Isaac Newton, "to have 
a being of their own." We have seen that for a long 
time, the tenure by which they held their apartments 
at Gresham College was very uncertain; and that 
^eps had been taken to procure accommodation else- 
where. In 1705 the Council received a communi- 
cation from the Mercers' Company, to the effect that 
the latter had come to a resolution " not to grant the 
Society any room at alP®.'* This notice seems not to 
have been wholly unexpected ; as some time before 
it was received, a Committee was appointed to super- 
intend the removing of " the goods of the Society, in 
case any warning comes from the Committee of Gre- 
sham College *^*' It had, however, the effect of causing 
the Council to use every means to obtain a locale for 
the Society ; one of their first acts was to petition the 
Queen for a grant of ground in Westminster. The 
Petition was as follows : — 

^^ The Earl of Macclesfield in his address as President, delivered 
on this occasion, states, that when the Council originally deter- 
mined the award of the Medal, they had kept steadily in -view 
^* the adyancement of science and useful knowledge, the honor of 
the Society, and not confining the benefaction withm the narrow 
limits of any particular country, much less of the Society itself." 
Journal-book^ Vol. xxn. p. 411. 

" Council-book, Vol. n. p. 129. i» Ibid., p. 124. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

388 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

'' To the QaeerCs most Excellent Majesty. 
" The humble Petition of the President, Councill, and 
Fellows of the Royall Society of London : — 

" Sheweth, 

" That your Petitioners are a Corpora^ 
tion founded by your Royall Uncle King Charles the 
Second, for improving Naturall Knowledge, and that for 
want of a place of their own to meet in, they have, by 
the favour of the Trustees and Professors of Sir Thomas 
Gresham, been allowed the use of rooms in Bishopgate- 
Street to meet in, and for their Library and Repository, 
and that the said Trustees and Professors are about 
pulling down and rebuilding the said CoUege in a new 
form, which will afford your Petitioners no convenient 
accommodation. And that a seat nearer Westminster 
would be more convenient for persons of quality, and 
render our Meetings more numerous, and thereby con- 
duce more to the improvement of naturall knowledge. 
Wherefore your Petitioners most humbly pray, that your 
Majesty would be graciously pleased to give them leave 
to petition the Parliament for a clause to be inserted 
into the Bill, now depending about disposing of the 
Mews, for empowering your Migesty to grant them a 
piece of ground not exceeding the quantity of fifty 
foot by sixty, to build upon in any part of the said 
Mews, where it can be best spared, or in any other 
place as your Majesty shall think fit***." 

This failed to procure the boon requested. It was, 
however, hardly to be expected that Anne, who was 
not remarkable for her patronage of literature and 
science, would pay, much attention to the prayer of a 
learned Society, particularly at a period when State- 

^ Commons* Journals^ Vol. xiv. p. 471 . 

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1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 389 

affairs demanded, if they did not obtain, the greatest 

The Council next applied to the Trustees of the 
Cotton Library, then kept in Cotton House, West- 
minster, for permission to meet in their apartments ; 
but here again they were disappointed ^\ It would 
be tedious and useless to enumerate all the plans for 
building or renting houses, which were successively 
proposed, discussed, and abandoned. Some idea, how- 
ever, may be formed of the labour attendant upon the 
search for suitable premises from the fact, that during 
a period of six years the Committee appointed to 
procure accommodation for the Society were actively 
engaged. At last, on the 8th September, 1710, the 
President (Sir I. Newton) summoned the Council, for 
the purpose of informing them that the house of the 
late Dr. Brown, in Crane Court, was to be sold, " and 
being in the middle of the town, and out of noise, 
might be a proper place to be purchased by the 

^^ It was confidently expected that accommodation would be 
procured in this house. When examining the MSS. in the Bod- 
leian Library, I found a lettet from Sir H. Sloane to Dr. Charlott, 
Master of University College, dated April 26, 1707, in which he 
says : ^' Here are great designes on foot for uniting the Queen's 
Library, the Cotton, and Royal Society together. How soon they 
may be put in practice, time must discover." Burnet mentions 
that "Lord Halifax moved the House of Lords to petition the 
Queen, that the Cotton Library and the Queen's Library should 
Be joined, and that the Royal Society, who had a very good library 
at Gresham College, would remove, and hold their assemblies 
there as soon as it was made convenient for them. Thb was a 
great design, which the Lord Halifax, who set it on foot, resolved 
to carry on till it was finished. It will set learning again on foot 
among us, and be a great honour to the Queen's reign." Bumei'* 
Own Time9^ Vol. ii. p. 441. 


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390 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

Society for their Meetings." Accordingly, " the Presi- 
dent, Sir Christopher Wren, Mr. Hill, Mr. Pitfield, 
Dr. Sloane, Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Waller, Mr. Wren, 
Mr. Isted, Dr. Mead, Sir John Percival, and Dr. Cock- 
bum, four of them to be a quorum, were ordered a 
Committee to take care of this matter." On the 20th 
September, the President reported to the Coimcil, 
"that he, and several members of the Committee, 
had been to* view the late Dr. Brown's house, and 
found it very convenient for the Society." " Then the 
question was put, whether they agreed to buy the inte- 
rest of the late Dr. Brown's house at fourteen hundred 
and fifty pounds ; this question was ballotted for, and 
twelve votes were for it, and one against it." 

It was then resolved, "that the former Committee 
appointed the 8th September last, four of them to 
be a quorum, be appointed to contract for, and pur- 
chase the house of the late Dr. Brown, and adjoyning 
little house, for a sum not exceeding 1450/., not 
including the repairs ; and seeing the deeds and writ- 
ings prepared to be perfected, and the house fitted up 
for the reception of the Society, with all necessary 

On the 26th October following, the President 
reported, at a Meeting of Council, that " he had, with 
the Committee appointed for that purpose, agreed 
for 1450/. for the two houses in Crane Court, men- 
tioned in the last Minutes." 

It was thereupon " Ordered, that Mr. Pitfield pay 
550/. to Mr. Brigstock and the Trustees of Dr. Brown, 
for the use of the Society towards the purchase of the 
5aid houses in Crane Court, and that Mr. Collier, who 
is ready to advance nine hundred pounds, pay the 
same to the said Mr. Brigstock, for the purchase of 


zed by Google 

1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. ' 391 

the said houses, and that he have a mortgage of the 
houses for the same, with interest at 6 per cent. This 
was ballotted for, and all were affirmatives^.'* 

Thus was the Society at last in possession of a 
house of their own ; and after the uncertainty that 
attended their occupancy of Gresham College, it 
might naturally be imagined that the Fellows gene- 
rally would hail with pleasure the announcement of 
the Council having taken an house where the Society 
would be more independent. But, according to a 
pamphlet entitled, An Account of the late Proceedings 
in the Council qf the Royal Society , in order to remove 
from Gresham College into Crane Court in Fleet 
Street, published in 1710^, it would appear that this 
was not the case, but that, on the other hand, con- 
siderable dissatisfaction was felt by the Fellows at 
the change. 

The writer, after observing that the Council had 
resolved on taking Mr. Brown's house, goes on to 
say, that "the President (Sir Isaac Newton) gave 
orders at night to summon as many Fellows as were 
in town, or could be found, to meet at Gresham Col- 
lege on the 1st Sept., previous to a Meeting of the 
Council, held on the same day." At this extraor- 
dinary Meeting he told them that they were without 
any being of their own ; that their continuing in Gre- 
sham College was very precarious ; that Dr. Brown's 
house had been proposed to them, and a Committee 

^ This Conncil consiBted at its opening of thirteen members : 
upon Sir I. Newton's announcement, two, viz. Dr. Harris and 
Mr. Clavel, withdrew. 

^ I have only been able to meet with this pamphlet in the 
British Museum. 


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892 • HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

bad view'd it, and that he thought it very convenient 
for the uses of the Society. He added, that he had 
called them thither, that he might hear what objec- 
tions they had to offer against the proposal, that the 
Council might consider of them, and take their final 
resolutions accordingly. The profound silence that 
followed, sufficiently exprest a general surprise ; till 
the President (after a little while) began the debate, 
and addressing himself to some particular members, 
ask'd their objections. They told him that the very 
embryo of the Society had been form'd in Gresham 
College, and that they kept their weekly Meetings in 
that place some time before they obtain'd the Royal 
Charter of Incorporation ; that the Society had con- 
tinued there almost ever since, even in their most 
flourishing condition ; that they yet enjoy 'd the same 
freedom and convenience as formerly, without the 
least disturbance or impediment, and therefore they 
hoped to hear the reasons that induced him, and a 
few others who appeared as zealous and earnest, to 
remove from* thence. Till that question was debated 
and determined, it was out of season to enquire into 
the inconveniences of the house he had recommended. 
The President was not prepared (or perhaps not in- 
structed) to enter upon that debate : but freely (though 
methinks not very civilly) reply'd, That he had good 
reasons for their removing, which he did not think 
proper to be given there. The acting Secretary, who 
has engross'd the whole management of the Society's 
affairs into his own hands, and despotically directs 
the President, as well as every other^ member, took 
upon him to relate a fact, which he thought would 
determine every vote. He told them that one of the 
Gresham Committee ask'd him (not long ago), Why 


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1705 — 10.] THE HOYAL SOCIETY. 393 

the Royal Society did not remove from Gresham Col- 
lege, since the City had several times sent them 
warning to that purpose ?" This does not appear to 
have satisfied the Members, who were of opinion that 
there were no grounds for removing; they likewise 
remonstrated, " that that season of the year, and the 
short notice he had given of this Meeting, made it 
very improper to determine an affair of so great 
importance to the Society at that time ; and there- 
fore they moved that the debate should be adjourn'd 
to St Andrew's day, or at least to some other extraor- 
dinary Meeting." This the President would not hear 
of; they then offered to give him their opinion either 
by ballotting, or voting vivd voce. — But in vain ; his 
scruples were unmoveable : so that some of the gen- 
tlemen, with warmth enough, ask'd him. To what pur- 
pose then he had call'd them thither? Upon which 
the Meeting broke up somewhat abruptly, and not 
only the Members of the Society, but most of those 
of the Council also, left the President with Dr. Sloane, 
Mr. Waller, and one or two more, to take such mea- 
sures at the Council as they best lik'd." The writer 
then proceeds to contrast the large rooms in Gresham 
College with those in Dr. Brown's house, which he 
describes as small and inconvenient, and so dilapi- 
dated, as to require the large sum of 1800/. to put 
them into habitable condition. His description of 
their '' new purchase," as he calls it, is so minute, as 
to warrant insertion. 

"The approach to it, I confess, is very fair and 
handsome, through a long court : but then they have 
no other property in this than in the street before 
it; and in a heavy rain a man can hardly escape 
being thoroughly wet before he can pass through it. 


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394 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

The front of the house, towards the garden, is about 
42 ft. long ; but that towards Crane Court not above 
80 foot. Upon the ground-floor there is a little hall, 
and a direct passage from the stairs into the garden, 
about 4 or 5 foot wide; and on each side of it, a 
little room about 15 ft. long, and 16 ft. broad. The 
stairs are easie which carry you up to the next floor. 
Here there is a room fronting the Court, directly over 
the hall, and of the same bigness. And towards the 
garden is the Meeting-room, which is 25^ foot long, 
and 16 foot broad. At the end of this room there is 
another (also fronting the garden) 12^ foot long, and 
16 broad. The three rooms upon the next floor are 
of the same bigness with those I have last described. 
These are all that are as yet provided for the recep^ 
tion of the Society ; except you will add the garrets, 
a platform of lead over them, and the usual cellars, 
&C. below, of which they have more and better at 
Gresham College. The garden is but 42 foot long, 
and 27 broad, and the coach-house and stables are 40 
foot long, and 20 foot broad." 

He then states, that on the Wednesday following 
effectual care was taken, at a Meeting of Council, to 
give the finishing stroke before they parted. Of the 
fourteen Fellows that then appear'd**, there were 
two only who dissented." "The President was so 
elated with his success," adds the author, "that he 
presently summoned another Council, to meet at the 
house in Crane Court; and at the same time gave 
notice that the ordinary Meetings would begin there 
on Wednesday, Nov. 8." 

It is rather remarkable, that neither the Coun- 

^ There are only thirteen enumerated in the Council-book. 

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1705 — 10.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 395 

cil nor Journal-books contain any Minute to this 

An ordinary Meeting was held on the 8th No- 
vember (the Minutes of which are duly entered), but 
whether at Crane Court or Gresham College, is not 
mentioned. There is no doubt, however, that on the 
above day the Royal Society met for the first time in 
Crane Court. Ward, in his preface to the Lives of 
the Gresham Professors, says, " The year 1710 proved 
very unfortunate to the College, by the removal of 
the Royal Society ; who, having purchased the house 
of the late Dr. Brown, in Crane Court, Fleet Street, 
began their Meetings there on the 8th November that 
year. And not long after, their library and repository 
were also removed thither. Thus were these two 
learned bodies, both founded for the improvement of 
knowledge, and benefit of the public, at length sepa- 
rated, after they had continued together 50 years, 
except when necessarily parted for a time by reason 
of the Great Fire. While the Royal Society held their 
Meetings at Gresham College, such of the Professors 
who were Members of it were, in civility, excused 
from their annual payments, and felt little inconveni- 
ence from the want of a college-library ; but after the 
books of the Society were removed, they became 
sensible of that disadvantage^." 

In the Account of the Rise, Foundation, Pro- 
gress, and Present State of Gresham College, pub- 
lished anonymously in 1707, we have evidence that 
the College was deriving at that period, and for many 
years previously, its chief renown from the Royal 

^ Lives of the Gresham Professors, p. 18. 

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396 HISTORY OF [1705 — 10. 

The writer says : " It must indeed be acknowledged, 
to the great honour of the Royal Society, that Gre- 
sham College has not been altogether barren and un- 
fruitful ; but that illustrious body has been the main, 
if not only occasion that this College has not by this 
time lost its name*." This, it will be seen, was writ- 
ten only three years before the change took place. 

It is easy to understand that the removal of the 
Society from Gresham College, where, as an incorpo- 
rated body, they drew their first breath, and which 
cradled them during half'-a-century, was keenly felt 
by many of the Fellows, who were probably ignorant 
of the reasons that influenced the Council ; but an 
acquaintance with all the circumstances of the case 
leads us to the conclusion, that the Council had no 
other alternative but to engage the most suitable 
accommodation for the Society that was to be found. 
It will be remembered, that they were apprised by the 
Mercers' Company that they had resolved not to 
grant the Society any room at all ; and it appears, 
moreover, that the College was in a most dilapidated 
condition. In the petition of the Mercers' Company, 
praying for leave to introduce a Bill into Parliament, 
to enable them to pull down, and rebuild Gresham 
College, the latter is represented as being '' in a most 
crazy state, not worth repairing, if even the Com- 
pany had the means of doing so, which was not the 
case*^." This was probably another motive for deter- 
mining the Council to remove ; and it must not be 
forgotten, that at the period of the change, and for 
some years previously, the Society were actually pay- 

w P. 15. 

^ This petition may be seen at length in the Journals of Ma 
CammofUy Vol. xiv. p. 426. 


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1705 — 10.] 



ing 32/. a year for the use of some of the Professors' 

With regard to the question, whether Dr. Brown's 
house was more eligible for the purposes of the 
Society, than other houses which were to be rented* 
or purchased, it is manifestly impossible to offer any 
opinion; but when we reflect that the Society occupied 
the building, as we shall see, for a period of 72 years, 
gathering fresh renown, and extending their repu- 
tation more and more, as time flowed on, we have 
strong presumptive evidence that the Council did not 
make an injudicious choice. 

Copley Medal. 
Size of Original. 


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^ House occupied by the Society in Crane Court — ^Fellows subscribe 
to defray the expense of Repairs — Ode by a Frenchman to the 
Society — Society appointed Visitors of Royal Observatory, by 
Royal Warrant — ^Flamsteed's Yezadon — His Conduct on the 
occasion — Visitors examine the Obeervatoiy — Recommend 
Repairs and new Instruments — Ordnance decline to undertake 
the work — ^Queen wishes the Society to take care of the 
Observatory — Appointment of celebrated Committee on the 
disputed Invention of Fluxions — Historical Account of the 
Dispute — Report of Committee — Society adopt the Report-*- 
Leibnitz dissatisfied — Appeals to the Society through Cham- 
berla3nie— Society confirm the Report of their Committee in 
fiivour of Newton — Remarkable Error of Writers on this Sub- 
ject — Probable Origin of the Error — Foreign Ambassadors 
attend the Meetings — Experiments exhibited before them — 
Queen orders her Foreign Ministers to assist in promoting the 
Objects of the Society-— Fossil Remains sent from America — 
Philosophical Society established at Spalding — Curious List of 
the Fellows published — Bequests to the Royal Society — Foreign 
Secrtary appointed — Opinion of Attorney-General — Petition to 
George I. for Licence to purchase or hold lands in Mortmain-^ 
King grants the prayer of the Society. 


THE march of improvement, which has changed 
so much of old London, has not yet penetrated 
into the quiet court, made classical by the abode of 
the Royal Society for so many years. 

The exterior of the house remains unaltered, 
though the interior has undergone some changes, with 
the view of adapting it to the wants of the Scottish 
Hospital, to which it is devoted. Happily, however, 
the room in which the Society met is in the same.con- 
dition as when Newton occupied the presidential chair. 


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and it is impossible to stand in that ancient apart- 
ment, a representation of which is annexed, without 
feeling the associations connected with those days 
stealing over their mind^ 

It is gratifying to find that several noblemen and 
gentlemen came forward with donations to assist in 
discharging the debt due to Mr. Collier. Amongst 
them was the Earl of Halifax, who gave 100/. ; New- 
ton, who contributed 120/. ; and Mr. Richard Waller, 
100/. towards building a repository, to contain the 
Society's Museum. This addition, together with the 
the necessary repairs, cost 800/. By Newton's order, 
the porter was clothed in a suitable gown*, and pro- 
vided with a stafl^ surmounted by the Arms of the 
Society in silver ; and on the meeting-nights a lamp 
was hung out over the entrance to the court firom Fleet 

The Fellows appear to have felt all the pleasures 
of independence, which they determined to enjoy ; for 
we find, when the President stated that the Company 
of Mine Adventurers, who were established by Act 
of Parliament, wished to meet in the Society's house, 
paying a yearly rent for the convenience, it was 
unanimously resolved, that the Society " would con- 
tinue as they were, and not let their house to the 
Mine Adventurers." 

The Society's removal seems to have inspired a 

^ As I write (1847)9 the destniction of Crane Court has been 
resolved on« to make way for a new Record Office. 

* At the period of my election to the office I hold, the Porter 
had abandoned the gown; but on my representation of previous 
custom, the Council resolved that he should be furnished for the 
future with livery. 


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400 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15^ 

French Poetaster, who wrote an ode in praise of the 
body when they moved to Crane Court. The only 
copy that I have seen of this poem is in the British 
Museum. It is entitled. Crane Courts ou le Nouveau 
Temple ^Apollon d Lcmdres: Ode d Messieurs de la 
Soci^tS Bayale. Some idea may be formed of it by 
the following extract : 

^''Que Toit'je? Quells ardeur wudaine 
M'agitey echauffe mes trantpartif 
Cest icff la celibre Athene 
QuSlewnt lea Dieux 9ur cee horde; 
De loin un Temple ee d^couvre : 
Son euperbe portique a*ouvre^ 
Convert de lauriere verdiseants^ 
Pour Apollony et pour sa gloire. 
Ce nouveau temple^ d. la memoire 
Y rapelle un antique encene, 
PSnStrons^ Muse, en ce$ detours; 
Minerte y rit avec Us graces^ 
Les Muses avec les amours; 
Clioy Calliope^ Uranie, 
Melpomine^ Euterpe^ Thalie^ 
Des lauriers en main tour a tour, 
Jalouses mats sages rivales; 
Ceignent de couronnes igales^ 
Cent rivaiup qui forment leur eour," 

Shortly after the removal, the Society acquired 
additional importance, by being appointed Visitors 
and Directors of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, 
The Warrant to this effect was read before the Council 
on the 14th December, 1710, and runs as follows : — 

" To our Trusty and WeU-behved the President of the 

Royal Society for the time being; 
"Anne R. 

" Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you 
well. \Miereas we have been given to understand that 
it would contribute very much to the improvement of 


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1710 — 15.] TUE UOYAL SOCIETY. 401 

Adtronomy and Navigation, if we should appoint con- 
stant visitors of our Royal Observatory at Greenwich, 
with sufficient powers for the due execution of that trust ; 
we have therefore thought fit, in consideration of the 
great learning, experience, and other necessary qualifica- 
tions of our Boyal Society, to constitute and appoint, as 
we do by these presents constitute and appoint, you, the 
President, and in your absence the Vice-President, of 
our Royal Society for the time being, together with 
such others as the Council of our said Royal Society 
shall think fit to join with you, to be constant Vmtars of 
our said Royal Observatory at Greenwich : authorising 
and requiring you to demand of our Astronomer and 
Keeper of our said Observatory, for the time being, to 
deliver to you, within six months after every year shall 
be elapsed, a true and fair copy of the annual observa- 
tions he shall have made. And our further will and 
pleasure is, that you do likewise, from time to time, order 
and direct our said Astronomer and Keeper of our 
said Royal Observatory, to make such Astronomical 
Observations as you in your judgment shall think pro' 
per. And that you do survey and inspect our Instru- 
ments in our said Observatory ; and as often as you 
shall find any of them defective, that you do inform the 
principal officers of our Ordnance thereof; that so the 
said instrument may be either exchanged or repaired. 
And so we bid you farewell. Given at our Court of St. 
James's, the 12th day of December, 1710, in the ninth 

year of our reign. 

" By her Majesty's command, 

" H. St. John.'* 

A copy of this Warrant was sent to the Ordnance 
Office, with the subjoined letter : — 

VOL. I. D D 


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402 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

*' Gentlemen, " WhUehaU, 12 Dee. 1710. 

'' I BEND you enclosed, by the Queen's 
command, a copy of Her M^gesty's letter to the Royal 
Society, appointing the President, and in his absence the 
Vice-President, together with such others as the Coun- 
cil of the said Royal Society shall think fit to join with 
them, to be constant Visitors of the Royal Observatory 
at Greenwich : and I am at the same time to signify 
Her Majesty's pleasiu*e to you, that you do receive and 
take notice of such representations as the said Visitors 
shall think fit to make to your Board, concerning Her 
Majesty's instruments at any time remaining in the said 
Observatory : and that you order them to be repaired, 
erected, or changed, as there shall be occasion : and if 
any instruments be now there which do not belong to 
Her Mtyesty, you are to give necessary directions for 
purchasing the same. Her Miyesty is likewise pleased 
to direct that you should have regard to any complaints 
the said visitors may make to you of the behaviour of 
Her M^'esty's Astronomer and Keeper of the said Ob- 
servatory, in the execution of his office. 

" I am. Gentlemen, &c., 

" H. St. John." 

On the same day that the Warrant was received, 
it was ordered by the Council, that " the President, 
Mr. Roberts, Dr. Arbuthnot, Dr. Halley, Dr. Mead, 
Mr. Hill, Sir Christopher Wren, Mr. Wren, and Dr. 
Sloane, be appointed a Committee to go to Greenwich, 
any three of them (of which the President, or Vice- 
President to be one) to be a quorum, and to report 
their opinion of the condition of the Observatory, 
and the instruments therein, and to take an inventory 
of the instruments." 


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1710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 403 

This Warrant occasioned Flamsteed the greatest 
vexation. In his Avtobiography he accuses Newton 
of having procured it, and states that he waited on 
Mr. Secretary St. John, and told him, 'Hhat he was 
injured, and would be hindered by this new consti- 
tution ; that he wanted no new instruments, and that 
if he did, the Visitors were not skilful enough to con<- 
trive them^" All his arguments and aspersive re- 
marks proved unavailing; for Mr. St. John, according 
to Flamsteed's own account, ^'seemed not to regard 
what he said, but answered haughtily, *The Queen 
would be obeyed.'" 

It must be admitted that Flamsteed's excited 
remarks would ill become any man, more especially 
a clergyman, which the Astronomer-Royal was ; but 
his dislike to Newton appears to have increased 
with his infirmities, and we find him writing, in 
1713, to his friend Mr. Sharp, "Sir I. Newton still 
continues his designs upon me, under pretence of 
taking care of the Observatory, and hinders me all 
he can: but, I thank God for it, hitherto without 

Notwithstanding the objections of the Astronomer- 
Royal, the newly-appointed Visitors, acting on the 
Queen's warrant, visited the Observatory, and directed 
Flamsteed to send copies of his observations to the 
Royal Society; they also addressed a letter to the 
Ordnance-ofiice, representing the inefficiency of seve- 

' Bail/s Aeamnt of Flamtteed^ p. 92« 

* Some idea may be formed of Flamsteed's feelings towards 
Newton, by his sajring in this letter, " I think his new Principia 
worse than the old." And in another letter, he declares that '' he 
does not know whether the alterations and additions be worth 12^.** 



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404 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

tal instruments*, and the expediency of replacing them 
by new ones, adding, that ''they would accompany 
able workmen to Greenwich, and shew them what is 
wanting to be done, and give the best advice they 
can for doing every thing after the best manner." 
The Ordnance-oflBce thus replied: — 

" Office of Ordnance, 4 Sep. 1713. 
" Gentlemen, 

" We received yours, and in answer 
acquaint you that we do not very well apprehend what 
is meant by repairing the instruments in the Royal 
Observatory at Greenwich; this office never having 
been at the charge thereof, or any other, except of re- 
pairing the house and paying Mr. Flamsteed's salary*. 

"W. Bridges. 


It will be seen from this how little interest in 
science was taken at that period by public depart- 
ments of Government ; and, consequently, how much 
is due to the Royal Society for cultivating and foster- 
ing it^ 

When Sir Isaac Newton presented a copy of his 
PHndpia to the Queen, in 1713, she begged him, 
and the gentlemen of the Royal Society, to take care 
of the Royal Observatory ; and having received these 

* Council-book, Vol. n. p. 220. 

• Letter-book, Vol. xv. p. 26. 

' See Professor Rigaud's remarks on Dr. Halley's Instruments 
at Greenwich, in the 9th volume of the Astron. Soe. Memoirs; 
wherein he says: *'The same dis^aceful and injurious parsi- 
mony, which had left on Flamsteed the burden of providing what 
was necessary for the Observatory, still continued to operate, and 
the claim was set up by Government to the instruments which his 
vridow had, in full right, taken away with her." 


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1710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 405 

directions from the lips of the Sovereign, the "Vi- 
sitors,'' in endeavouring to improve the means of 
observing, by substituting better instruments in place 
of those in use (which even Flamsteed admitted to be 
defective), were only doing their duty. But in con- 
sequence of the unfortunate misunderstanding between 
the Visitors and Flamsteed, nothing was done during 
the lifetime of the Astronomer-Royal ; and it was only 
when Halley succeeded him, in 1720®, that Govern- 
ment furni^ed the Observatory with a few instru- 
ments necessary for working the establishment. 

In 1711, the celebrated Committee was appointed 
by the Society, to report upon the respective claims 
of Newton and Leibnitz to the invention of Fltiadons^ 
now called the Differential Calcfulus. 

This constitutes so interesting and important a 
feature in the history of the Society, and of mathe- 
matical discovery, as to render it desirable to bring 
forward the principal circumstances connected with 
the subject*. 

It is an undisputed fact, that as early as 1663, 
Newton had studied the works of Descartes and Wallis, 
and invented the celebrated Binomial Theorem; In 
the tract entitled De Analysiper Equationes numero 
terminorum injinitas, written by Newton in 1666, 
and first printed in the Commerdum Epistolicum, it is 

• It was Dr. Mead who procured for Halley the situation of 
Astronomer-Royal. In a letter from the former to Heam, dated 
Jan. 9, 1719, preserved in the Bodleian library, he says : " I have 
been so happy as to get Fkmsteed's place for Dr. Halley, by means 
of my Lord Sunderland." 

• Professor De Morgan has been so kind as to give me the 
benefit of his valuable advice and assistance, in the following pages 
relating to this subject. 


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406 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

evident that he had begun to use the notation of 
fluxions^®. The tract, says Professor De Morgan, 
^'contains a method of series, and many problems 
solved by application of limits to differences obtained 
by expansion, but no direct method of fluxions".'* 

Various letters now passed between Newton, Col- 
lins, and others, alluding to the discovery of the 
former. One in particular, from Newton to Collins, 
dated December 10th, 1672, was always stated to 
assert the &ct, and contain one example. The Com- 
mittee appointed by the Society declare that this 
letter was forwarded to Leibnitz. 

In 1673 the latter visited England *', and made 
the acquaintance of Oldenburg and other philoso- 
phers connected with the Royal Society". From these 
he heard something of Newton's discovery, and being 
desirous of more precise information, he wrote to 

*° In allusion to the above tract, the following passage occuis 
in the " life of Newton* in the Bioff. Diet: — " His MS. was com- 
municated to none but Mr. J. Collins and Lord Brouncker, and even 
this had not been done but for Dr. Barrow, who would not suflfer 
him to indulge his modesty so much as he desired. This MS. 
was taken out of our author's study in 1669, entitled : A Method 
which I formerly found out^ S^,; and supposing this * formerly' to 
mean no more than three years, he must have discovered this 
admirable theory when he was not 24. But what is still more, 
this MS. contains both the discovery and method of Fluxions, 
which have occasioned so great a contest between Mr. Leibnitz and 
him, or rather between Germany and England." 

" Art. FltuDumsy Pen. Cyc. 

^ Previous to his visit, he addiessed a letter to the Society, 
requesting to be elected into " so eminent a body :" he was unani- 
mously elected on the 9th April, 1673. The letter, as alao a second, 
acknowledging the honour, are preserved in the Archives. 

13 He attended the Meetings, and exhibited his Calculating 


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^710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 407 

Oldenburg, on his return to Germany, requesting to 
have Newton's method communicated to him. New- 
ton, at the instigation of Oldenburg and Collins^ wrote 
the celebrated letters of June 13, and October 24, 
1676, the first containing his Binomial Theorem, the 
second an allusion to his method of Fluxions, con- 
cealed under the anagram ^^: 

6a, ccdoB I3e//7i SI 9n 4o iq rr 4* 9* ISo^r ; 

meaning, that if any one could arrange six a's, two c's> 
one 6?, &c. into a certain sentence, he would arrive at 
the following sentence : Data JEquatione quotcunqtte 
flttentes gtuintitates involvente Jluadones invenirey et 
vice Tersd, which literally translated is — ^given equation 
any whatsoever, flowing quantities involving fluxions 
to find, and vice versd. " If Leibnitz," says Professor 
De Morgan, ** could have taken a hint, either from the 
preceding letters in alphabetical order, or (had he 
known it) in their significant arrangement, he would 
have deserved as much credit as if he had made the 
invention independently." It is important to state, 
that Leibnitz did not receive the second letter before 
March 5, 1677. On the 21st June, in the same year, 
he wrote to Oldenburg, giving a full and clear state- 
ment of the principal use and notation of Diflerential 
Calculus"; and Newton immortalized Leibnitz's inde- 
pendent discovery ten years afterwards, by thus recog- 
nizing it in the Prindpia : 

"In Uteris, quas mihi cum Cremnetra jperitissimo G, G, 
Leibnitio annis abhinc decern intercedehani^ cum s^nificarem 

^^ This was a common practice amongst philosophers at that 
period, and, indeed, long antecedent to it; for Galileo, in 1610, 
excited the curiosity of astronomers by the publication of a logograph. 

^^ Published in the Commercium JEpUtolicum. 


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408 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 


fM compotem esse methodi determinandi Maximas ei Minimas^ 
ducendi Tangentes^ et eimilia peragendi, quce in terminis Surdi» 
wque ae in Bationalibus procederety et Uteris transposiiis hane 
sententiam involvent^us {data JEqtkxtione ^e.) eandmn cdarem : 
rescripsit Vir Clarissimus se quoque in efusmadi methodum 
inddisse^ et methodum suam eammunicavit a mea mx ablu^ 
dentem prcpterquaminverborum et noiarum/armtUtu. Utriusque 
fundamentum continetur in hoe Lemmate^*.^ 

In the course of a few yeaxs matters stood thus : 
that while in England the Differential Calculus had 
not been made clear to the scientific world, either by 
Newton or his friends, and was consequently but little 
used ; it had, in the words of Professor De Morgan, 
"grown into a powerful system in the hands of Leib- 
nitz and the Bemouillis'^" 

It is certain that for fifteen years Leibnitz enjoyed 
the honour, on the Continent, of being the inventor 
of his own Calculus^^: how his claim was first disputed 
is now to be shown. 

On the 10th April, 1695, Dr. Wallis gave the first 
notice to Newton that his reputation was endangered :— 
in a letter from Oxford of the above date, he says, 
" that he had heard that his notions of Fluxions pass 
there with great applause, by the name of Leibnitz's 
CcdctdtLS Differentialisr "You are not so kind to 

^' De Motu^ Prop. vn. Scholium. I have collated the above 
with the original MS. and find it to be literally correct. 

17 " Such was the reaerve of Newton," says Professor Powell, 
^' and so little were his methods known or followed up among his 
countrymen, that the first book which appeared in England, on 
the new Geometry (as it was called), was a treatise by Craig pro- 
fessedly derived from the writings of Leibnitz and his disciples." 
Ilht. Nat. Phil p. 29a 

" Printed in Raphson's Hist, of Flux. ^ p. 122, 


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1710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 409 

your reputation (and that of the nation)," he adds, 
" as you might be, when you let things of worth lie by 
you so long, till others carry away the reputation that 
is due to you. I have endeavoured to jdo you justice 
in that." Accordingly he inserted, in the Preface to the 
first volume of his WorkSy that Newton's method of 
Fluxions had been communicated to Leibnitz in the 
Oldenburg letters. 

Wallis's Works were reviewed in the Acta Erudi- 
torum for June, 1696 ; great stress is laid on Newton's 
admission of Leibnitz's independent discovery, upon 
which Newton remarks, '' I had the method of Fluxions 
some years before (1676);" and, in another place, 
** Whether Mr. Leibnitz invented it after me, or had 
it from me, is a question of no consequence ; for 
second inventors have no right *•." 

In 1699 further animosity was created, by a 
Genevese of the name of Fatio de Duillier* then re- 
siding in England, publishing a mathematical treatise, 
in which he insinuated that Leibnitz might have 
borrowed his invention from Newton**. This was 
followed by Keill, stating, in 1708", that Leibnitz had 
appropriated Newton's method, changing its name and 
symbols. This naturally irritated Leibnitz, who com- 
plained to the Royal Society, and, at the same time, 
requested that the subject of dispute might be sub- 
mitted to the judgment of the Members, over whom, 
it will be remembered, Newton then presided. 

^* Printed in Raphson's Hist of Flux., p/122. 
^ He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1687, and con- 
tributed Papers to the Transactions, 

*^ Neither the Society nor Newton approved this charge. 
« PhU. Trans., No. 317. 


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410 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

The Royal Society accordingly appointed a Com- 
mittee on the 6th March, ITj^, "to inspect the letters 
and papers relating to the dispute, consisting of Dr. 
Arbuthnot, Mr. Hill, Dr. Halley, Mr. Jones, Mr. 
Machen, and Mr. Burnet." On the 20th of March, 
Robarts was added to the Committee ; on the 27th, 
Bonet, the Prussian minister, and De Moivre, Aston, 
and Brook Taylor, on the 17th April following". It 
should be remembered that in the preceding year, 
(April 5th, 1711), Newton had given from the chair of 
the Society "a short account of his invention, with 
the particular time of his first mentioning or disco- 
vering it ; upon which Mr. Keill was desired to draw 
up an account of the matter in dispute, and set it 
in a just light." This account, dated May 24, 1711, 
was the immediate oause of Leibnitz requesting the 
interference of the Society. 

On the 24th April, 1712, the Committee delivered 
in their Report : 

"We have," they say, "consulted the letters and 
Letter-books in the custody of the R. Society, and 
those found among the papers of Mr. John Collins, 
dated between the years 1669 and 1677 exclusive, and 
shewed them to such as knew and avouched the hands 
of Mr. Barrow, Mr. CoUins, Mr. Oldenbiu-g, and Mr. 

^ Professor De Morgan was the first to point out these additions 
to the original Committee. It is curious enough that all previous 
historical writers have overlooked the important fact. Important, 
because Newton declared that the " numerous Committee was com^ 
posed of gentlemen of different nations^" which would not hold, 
had the Committee consisted only of its original members. We 
have to thank Professor De Morgan for his weighty discovery, 
which he gave to the Royal Society in a short Memoir, published 
in the Transactions for 1846. 


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1710—15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 411 

Leibnitz, and compared those of Mr. Gregory with one 
another, and with copies of eome of them taken in 
the hand of Mr. Collins, and have extracted from them 
what relates to the matter referred to us: all which 
extracts, herewith delivered to you, we believe to be 
genuine and authentic ; and by these letters and papers 
we find, 

* ** 1st. That Mr. Leibnitz was in London in the be- 
ginning of the year 1673, and went thence in or about 
March to Paris, where he kept a correspondence with 
Mr. Collins, by means of Mr. Oldenburg, till about 
September 1676, and then returned by London and 
Amsterdam to Hanover ; and that Mr. Collins was very 
free in communicating to able mathematicians what he 
had received from Mr. Newton and Mr. Gregory. 

^' 2dly. That when Mr. Leibnitz was the first time 
in London, he contended for the invention of another 
Differential Method, properly so called; and notwith- 
standing that he was shewn by Dr. Pell that it was 
Mouton's method, he persisted in maintaining it to be 
his own invention, by reason that he found it by himself, 
without knowing what Mouton had done before, and 
had much improved it. And we find no mention of his 
having any other Differential Method than Mouton's, 
before his letter of the 21st June, 1677, which was a 
year after a copy of Mr. Newton's letter of the 10th 
December, 1672, had been sent to Paris, to be commu- 
nicated to him ; and above 4 years after Mr. Collins 
began to communicate that letter to his correspondents, 
in which letter the method of Fluxions was sufficiently 
described to any intelligent person. 

« 3dly. That by Mr. Newton's letter of the 13th 
June, 1676, it appears that he had the method of 
Fluxions above five years before the writing of that 


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412 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

letter ; and by his analysis for (equatianes numero terminorum 
infinitas^ communicated by Dr. Barrow to Mr. Collins, 
in July 1669, we find that he had invented the method 
before that time. 

" 4thly. That the Differential Method is one and the 
same with the method of Fluxions, excepting the name 
and mode of notation; Mr. Leibnitz calling those Quan- 
tities, Differences, which Mr. Newton calls Moments or 
Fluxions, and marking them with the letter J, a mark 
not used by Mr. Newton. And therefore, we take the 
proper question to be, not who invented this or that 
method, but who was the first Inventor of the Method ; 
and we believe that those who have reputed Mr. Leibnitz 
the first Inventor, knew little or nothing of his corre- 
spondence with Mr. Collins and Mr. Oldenburg long 
before, nor of Mr. Newtotfs having that method above 
15 years before Mr. Leibnitz began to publish it in the 
Acta ErvdUorum of Leipsick. 

" For which reasons we reckon Mr. Newton the first 
Inventor, and are of opinion that Mr. Keill, in asserting 
the same, has been noways injurious to Mr. Leibnitz. 
And we submit to the judgement of the Society, whether 
the extracts of Letters and Papers now presented, toge- 
ther with what is extant to the same purpose in Dr. 
Wallis'^s 3rd Volume, may not deserve to be made pub- 

To which Report the Society agreed, nemine can" 
tradicente^ and " ordered that the whole of the matter 
from the beginning, with the extracts of all the letters 
relating thereto, and Mr. KeilFs and Mr. Leibnitz's 
letters, be published with all convenient speed that 

^ Copied from the original document in the Archives of the 
Royal Society. 


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1710 — 15.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 413 

may be, together with the Report of the said Com- 

It has been truly said that the quarrel between 
Leibnitz and Newton, or perhaps, to speak more 
properly, between their respective friends, was not 
without advantage to mathematical science, since it 
produced and perpetuated the precious collection of 
letters known under the name of the Commercium 
Epistolicum^. This work appeared in 1712. It was not 
published for sale; very few copies were printed, and 
these were distributed as presents ; consequently, the 
book was, even at that period, excessively scarce ; so 
so much so, that Baphson says, in his History of 
FluanonSy '^none are to be met with amongst the 

Leibnitz was at Vienna when he heard of the 
Commercium. In a letter to Count Bathmar, pub- 
lished in Des Maizeaux's RecueU de diverses PidceSy 
he says, ""J'Stois d Vienne gtiand fappris la publica- 
tion du livre^ mais assure qvOl demit contenir des 
fausseAt^es malignes^je ne daignai point lefaire venir 
par la poste^ mais fecrims d M, BemouiUi, Vhomme 
de r Europe qui a pevX-Ure le mieux rSussi dans la 
eonnaissance et dans V usage de ce Cakuly et qui etoit 
tout a fait neutre, de irCen mander son sentiment. 
M. Bemouilli m'Scrivit une lettre datee de Bdle, le 7 
e/wm, 1713, oH il disoit qu'il paroissoit vraisembla- 

^ Journal-book, Vol. xi. p. 289. The adoption of this Report 
by the Society is a material point : and it is a remarkable cir- 
cumstance, that all writers on this subject have omitted this very 
important fact. 

^ This name was frequently given to published Collections of 
letters about the end of the IJth century. But the title by itself 
is understood to apply to the above celebrated collection published 
bj the Royal Society. 


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414 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

ble gtie M. Newton avoit fdbriquS son Caieui apris . 
avoir vu le mien^.'' 

BemouiUi's opinion led Leibnitz to sanction and 
circulate an anonymous letter, (believed to be by 
Bernouilli), which had neither the name of the author 
printer, or place of publication, attached to it, and in 
which Newton was represented as haying fabricated 
his method of fluxions from the difierential calculus. 

But Leibnitz was guilty of a still greater indiscre* 
tion, which M. Biot thus details : "// Stait en corre- 
spondance avec la Princesse de GaUes, beUeJiUe du Roi , 
George L Cette princesse, d'un esprit tr^ ctUtivS^ 
avoit accueilli NenOon avec une extreme bienvieUance^ 
die aimait d s'entretenir avec lui, et Vhonorait au 
point de dire souvent qu'elle s'estimait heureuse d^Stre 
nSe dans un temps oH elle avail pu connottre un si 
grand genie. Leibnitz pi^ofita de sa correspondance 
pour attaquer Newton devant la prificesse ; et lui pre^ 
senter sa philosophies Tion-setdement comme/atisse sous 
le rapport physique, mats comme dangereiLse sous le 
rapport religieuw : et, ce qui est plus inconcevable, it 
appuyait ses accusations sur des passages du traitS 
des Principes et de FOptiqtie, que Newton avail Svi- 
demment composes et insSrSs dans les intentions les 
pltts sincirement rdigieuses, et comme de viritaUes 
professions de sa ferme croyance en une Providence 
divine^ r 

The next step taken by Leibnitz was to address a 
letter to Mr. Chamberlayne** at London, which was 

27 Vol. n. p. 44. » Life, p. 178. 

^ John ChamberlaTne. He was educated at Oxford, and was 
chamberlain to George, Prince of Denmark. He was elected a 
Fellow of the Society in 1702, and died in 1723. He had the 
reputation of being a learned man, and was, it is said, conversant 


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1710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 415 

written on the 28th April, 1714, expressive of his 
entire disapproval of the Report of the Committee, 
and the Commercium ; at the same time saying : '' Je 
rCai pds encore vu le livre publiS contre moi ;" and 
requesting Mr. Ghamberlayne to lay his letter before 
the Society^. 

This request was duly brought under consideration 
at their Meeting on the 20th May, 1714, when the 
Society came to the following resolution : 

'* It was not judged proper (since this letter was not 
directed to them), for the Society to concern themselves 
therewith, nor were they desired so to do. But that if 
any person had any material objection against the Cbm- 
merehmy or the Report of the Committee, it might be 
reconsidered at any time^*." 

This resolution, instead of repudiating, must be 
regarded as adopting the Report of the Committee ; 
and yet it is stated by Sir David Brewster, in his Life 
of Newtoriy (1831), that "the Society inserted a de- 
claration in their Journals on the 20th May, 1714, 
that they did not pretend that the Report of their 
Committee should pass for a decision of the Society 3*;" 
and Professor De Morgan, in his Life of the same phi- 
losopher, asserts, that ** the Society on the 20th May, 
1714, resolved that it was never intended that the 
Report of the Committee should pass for a decision of 
the Society : but others persisted in calling it so^." 

with Bizieen languages. He contributed three Papers to the Trant^ 

*> An attested copy of this letter is preserved in the Archives 
of the Society. 

^ Journal-book, Vol. xn. p. 481. 

3« P. 211. 33 p. 93. 


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416 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

The origin of this curious and grave mistake**, 
which is not confined to the above eminent indivi- 
duals, may be traced without much difficulty. In a 
letter from Leibnitz to Ghamberlayne, dated 25th 
August, 1714, he thanks him for laying his letter 
before the Society, and adds, that the extract which 
he sends him from their Journal, ^'fait connotire 
qu'eUe ne pretend pas que le rapport de ses Cammis- 
saires pa^se pour une decision de la SocUt6^.^ Mr. 
Chamberlayne evidently made such a communication 
to Leibnitz, as led the latter to a totally opposite con- 
clusion to that at which the Society had arrived, and 
historians have followed Leibnitz's printed letter, in- 
stead of the unpublished Minutes of the Society. 
Nothing further of moment occurred until 1715. In 
that year, the Abbd Conti, a friend of Leibnitz and 
Newton, was in London. Leibnitz wrote to him, 
adverting to the treatment that he had received. 
This letter led Conti to interest himself in the quar- 
rel. The following letter, from him to Brook Taylor'*, 
best explains what occurred. It is taken from a 
work entitled Contemplatio Philosophical privately 
printed in 1793 from the manuscript of Brook Taylor, 
to which is appended a Life and Correspondence by 
his grandson, Sir Wm. Young. 

" Monsieur, « Paris, May 22, 1721. 

^^Je nCen vats wms expliquer en pm$ de 
mots le$ raisans qui nCoiU engagis dans la querdU de M. New- 
ton et de M. Leibnitz. M. Newton me pria ePassenMer a 
Id SociiU les ambassadeurs et les autres ministres Strangers. 

^ A correction of it was inserted in the Phil, Mag. for 1847- 
^ This letter is published in Maizeaux's Eecueil, Vol. 11. p. 123. 
^ He was Secretary to the Society from 1714 to I7I8. 


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J710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 417 

H Bouhaiiak quails assistasseni d la eolation qu'an detait /aire 
des Papiers Oripinaux, qui te eonterveni dans lea Archives de 
la SociiU avee d'autres letires de M. Leibnitz. M. U Baron 
de Kirmansegger wnt a la SociiU avee les ministres des princes; 
ei apris que la eolation des Papisrs fut faite^ it dit tout haul 
queeela ne suffisoitpas; que la vMtahle mdhodepoUr finir la 
querellej c^Hoit que M. Newton luy-mime Serivtt une lettre i 
M. Leibnitz, dans laqueUe U luy proposat les raisons, et en 
mime temps luy demandat des riponses direetes. Tous les 
ministres des princes qui itoient prisent youterent Fidie de M. 
Kirmanseyyer, et le Boy mime, i qui on la prcposa le soir^ 
Vapprouva ; ayant dit tout cda a M. Newton cinq ou six jours 
apris U nCierimt une lettre pour entoyer a M. Leibnitz d 
ffanoter. La Comtesse de Kirmanseyyer la fit traduire en 
Francois par M. Costa: le Boy la lut^ et Vapprowea fort, en 
disant que les raisons itoient trie simples et tris claires^ et 
qu'il itoU difficile de ripondre a desfaiis^r 

The letter then goes on to say that Leibnitz was 
very much irritated by the communications which 
Conti sent him, and that he replied at great length. 
This closed the controversy; for Newton made no 
rejoinder, and Leibnitz died in November, 1716. 

All the correspondence was given to Raphson, 
whose History qf FluaAom was then in the press. 

The letters appeared as an Appendix. In 1722 a 
second edition of the Commercium was published, 
with a RecensiOy &c. prefixed, and notes by Keill and 
others. This edition differs in several insertions and 
omissions from the first^. In 1725 a third edition 

^ P. 121. 

^ See a Paper, entitled. Comparison of the First and Second 
Editions of the Commercium Epiitolieum, by Professor De Moigan^ 
communicated to the Royal Society in 1847. 

VOL. I. E E 


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418 HISTORY OP [1710 — 15. 

of the Prindpia was published, in which the cele- 
brated Scholium, upon the strength of which Leibnitz 
confidently appealed to Newton, was left out^ and its 
place supplied by another, in which the name of 
Leibnitz is not mentioned**. The late Professor 
Kigaud says, that '^Newton freely furnished Wallis 
with the account of his method, and of the notation 
which he adopted in the use of it : he did this with 
the express view of its being given to the public ; but, 
although a formidable rival had already challenged 
the invention, he could not induce himself to commu- 
nicate his own, unless under conditions which might 
exempt him from the danger of any personal con- 

That Newton was the earliest inventor of Fluxions 
in 1666 we cannot doubt**, but Leibnitz has certainly 
the merit of having first given full publicity to his 
discovery of the Differential Calculus in 1673. Had 
Newton done this, a controversy, painful in its nature, 
and unsatisfactory in its results, would have been 
avoided. But all admit, that he laboured more for 
the love of truth than of &me ; and this is one of the 
reasons why Newton is the greatest of philosophers. 
During the years 1711 — 12 the Society were 
honoured by the visits of several of the foreign am- 

^ Mr. De Morgan conceives, that as Newton allowed the 
Scholium to stand in the second edition when the dispute was at 
its height, it is possible he left the matter to Dr. Pemberton the; 
editor, or some other person. It will be remembered that Newton 
was very old at this period. 

^ Bsiay an ihefirH Publication of the Principiay p. 23. 

^^ Dr. Young, whose opinions were not formed without delibe- 
ration, says in his Nat. PhU. that '^ Newton was unquestionablj 
the first inventor of Fluxions." p. 191. 


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1710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 4ld 

bassadors^'. It was customary on these occasions to 
exhibit interesting experiments, the nature of which 
appears in the annexed extract from the Journal- 

** Signor Grimani, the Venetian Ambassador, Signor 
Gerardini, Envoy from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, 
and the Duke D'Aumont, French Ambassador, came to 
the Society, and were seated in elbow-chairs near the 
President. Their Excellencies were then entertained 
with several experiments, viz. : The productiveness of 
light by friction ; The mutual attraction of the parts 
of matter ; The curve caused by the rising of a fluid 
between two glass planes ; the stone called Oculua Mundi, 
which, from being put some time in fair water, from 
being very opaque becomes transparent. The refrac- 
tion of the air, by viewing an object through a prisma- 
tical vessel exhausted of air; — fiUed with common air, 
and with compound air. Mr. Cheselden then show'd' 
two preparations he had made of the veins and arteries 
of a human liver by ii\jecting red wax into them, which 
was very curiously and beautifully performed. A drop 
of oil was placed between two glass planes in vcicuo, so as 
to show the proportion of the power of gravity, and con- 
gruity or agreement of the parts, by observing at what 
angle the drop is observed to be stationary, and not to 
move towards the edge of the wedge formed by the two 

The Minutes add, that the experiments succeeded 
admirably, and afforded much delight to the distin- 
guished foreigners present. 

*■ Many of these became Fellows of the Society. 
*• This experiment, it is stated, was proposed by Sir Isaac New- 
ton, who occupied the chair. 



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420 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

In 1713, the Society received a proof of Royal 
favour as communicated in the subjoined letter. 

" Gentlemen, " Whitehall, 7 Feb. 1712 — 13. 

" Her Majesty having being graciously 
pleased to direct that instructions should be given hence- 
forward to her Ministers and Governors that go abroad, 
to contribute all they can, in their several stations, to- 
wards promoting the design for which the Royal Society 
was first instituted, by corresponding, as occasion may 
require, with the President and Fellows of the said 
Society, and by procuring as satisfactory answers as 
possible to such enquiries as may be sent from time 
to time ; this is to inform you thereof, and to acquaint 
you at the same time, that, as Her Miyesty intends shortly 
to despatch a Minister to the Court of Mosco, if you 
please to prepare a draught of instructions whereby he 
may be usefull to you in those parts, I will lay them 
before the Queen for her commands. I am also directed 
to let you know that Her Majesty's intention is, that I 
riiould write to such of her Ministers in my department 
abroad, if you desire any particular to be recommended 
to them. 

"I am, Gentlemen, 

"Your humble Servant, 


** To the Caunea o/the Hoyal Soeietyr 

The Fellows, through the medium of their Presi- 
dent, returned their sincere thanks to the Queen for 
this mark of her favour. Lord Bolingbroke replied, 
that " Her Majesty received the compliments of the 
Royal Society very graciously, and was pleased to 
express her intention of countenancing and encour- 
aging the studies of the Society." 


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1710 — 15j THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 421 

In order to reap as much benefit as possible from 
the Queen's favour, Committees were appointed to 
prepare instructions for Ministers and Governors pro- 
ceeding abroad^ ; and we have here a communication 
from Lord Combury, resulting from these measures, 
which will probably be perused with interest by the 
Palaeontologist. It is dated from New York, and 
addressed to the Secretary, 

"I did, by the Virginia fleet, send you a Tooth, 
which, on the outside of the box, was called the tooth of 
a Giant, and I desired it might be given to Gresham 
College : I now send you some of his bones, and I am 
able to give you this account. The tooth I sent was 
found near the side of Hudson's river, rolled down 
from a high bank by a Dutch country-fellow, about 
twenty miles on this side of Albany, and sold to one 
Van Bruggen for a gill of rum. Van Bruggen being a 
member of the Assembly, and coming down to New 
York to the Assembly, brought the tooth with him, 
and shew'd it to several people here. I was told of 
it, and sent for it to see, and ask'd if he would dis- 
pose of it ; he said it was worth nothing, but if I had 
a mind to it, 'twas at my service. Thus I came by it. 
Some said 'twas the tooth of a human creature ; others, 
of some beast or fish ; but nobody could tell what beast 
or fish had such a tooth. I was of opinion it was the 
tooth of a giant, which gave me the curiosity to en- 
quire farther. One Mr. Abeel, Recorder of Albany, 
was then in town, so I directed him to send some person 
to dig near the place where the tooth was found ; which 

** Tlie "instructions," or ^inquiries' as tbey are styled, are 
entered in the Register-books, and a£fbrd curious evidence of the 
meagre information existing at this period respecting foreign countries. 


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422 HISTORY OF [1710 — 15. 

he did, and that you may see the account he g^ves me 
of it, I send you the original letter he sent me : you 
must allow for the bad English. I desire these bones 
may be sent to the tooth, if you think fit. When I go 
up to Albany next, I intend to go to the place myself, 
to see if I can discover any thing more concerning the 
monstrous creature, for so I think I may call it" 

Mr. Abeel's letter runs thus : — 

"According to your Excellency's order, I sent to 
Klaverak to make a further discovery about the bones 
of that creature, where the great tooth of it was found. 
They have dug on the top of the bank where the tooth 
was roll'd down from, and they found, fifteen feet under- 
ground, the bones of a corpse that was thirty feet long, 
but was almost all decayed ; so soon as they handled 
them they broke in pieces ; they took up some of the 
firm pieces, and sent them to me, and I have ordered 
them to be delivered to your Excellency." 

In 1712 a Philosophical Society was established 
in the small town of Spalding, in Lincolnshire, prin-* 
cipally at the suggestion of Newton, who was desirous 
that institutions of this nature should be multiplied 
throughout England. It was the custom of the 
Spalding Society to transmit their Minutes to the 
Royal Society ; these were generally accompanied by 
a letter from the Secretary. In one of his communis 
cations, he gives this account of the young Society. 

"Sir Isaac Newton was pleased to say, he wish'd 
there were a Philosophic Society in every town where 
there was company enough to support them. And as 
that. great man recommended, so we have formed our- 
selves into a Society, and/have obtained the favour of 
some foreign members in the most distant, as well as 


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J 710 — 15.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 423 

various parts, of the world, from whom we're favoured 
with answers to our enquiries, when we apply to them. 

" We have a room commodiously fitted up with large 
presses on two sides, and in them such books, &e. as 
may best serve the end of such enquiries as arise in our 
conversation, which chiefly turns on Imbanking and 
Draining, Agriculture, Botany, History, Architecture, 
Sculpture, Musick, and such like Arts and Sciences. 
A^oining, we open into a little garden of our own, 
where our servant (who is a curious florist) produces 
most flowers, fine for their sorts, in season* 

" We have an Air-Pump, Microscopes, Thermometer, 
Barometer, &c., several large portfolios, with prints and 
drawings in them of various sorts ; but, above all, we 
have raised a publick lending library of above a thou- 
sand volumes, kept clean and safe in presses, having 
tables of the books contained within, hanging on the 

"We meet together every Thursday, in the after- 
noon, throughout the year, and take Minutes of every 
thing communicated thought worth notingTlnd lay by, 
and keep carefully, all Drawings, Dissertations, Essays, 
&c., under their proper heads. Our Society consists at 
present of sixty regular members, and one hundred and 
fifteen honorary, who have been so good as to be our 
benefactors, and haye encouraged our undertaking. The 
great Ornament pr the Country and Light of the World, 
Sir Isaac Newtoli, with the Dean of Durham, Mr. Degg, 
Mr ^ay <fe^ poet , the Rev. S. Westley, and others, are 
of our number. Our fund is but small, arising only out 
of the contributions of twelve pence a month from each 
member resident here ; but it is sufficient to answer the 
expense of such experiments as we have occasion to 
make, and to purchase such books as we wish for, and 


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424 HISTORY OF [1715 — eo. 

have more immediate concern to u^e ; and to carry on 
our correspondencies of which, (as you have given us 
leave), we have begun with the Royal Society as the 
principal, trusting to their goodness in pardoning our 
ambition of being known to, and aim at being at all, 
though but in the least degree, serviceable to them, 
towards any of those noble purposes for which they 
were incorporated. A thing of some value may arise 
from where it is little expected, and we trust the good- 
will and spirit of the offerers may render our humble 
tribute not unacceptable to the most illustrious fra« 
temity of learned men, and encouragers of Arts and 
Sciences in Great Britain, whereof we have the honour 
to enrol many amongst our friends and benefactors^." 

An endeavour was made about this period to 
render the objects of the Society better known, and 
to make the scientific acquirements of the Fellows 
useful to the community, by the publication of a sin- 
gular Pamphlet, entitled, A List of the Royal Society 
of Londoriy with the places of abode of most of its 
Meinbers; as also an Advertisement showing what 
subjects seem, most suitable to the ends of its institu-- 
tion. 8vo. London, 1718^. The name of Thomas 
Clerk appears on the title-page in manuscript, as 
being the Author. The Advertisement runs thus : — 

'< As the design of publishing this list of that illus- 
trious body, over which the matchless Sir Isaac Newton 
happily presides, is to let the more inquisitive and 
learned part of mankind know where to find suitable 
correspondents; so, likewise, it is thought proper to 

^ Archives : Royal Society. 

*• I liave only been able to meet with this Pamphlet in the 
British Mnsenm» 


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.1715—20.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 425 

advertise the curious of some subjects that seem, if 
handled with judgment and sincerity, most agreeable 
and useful towards the promoting of those ends for 
which the Royal Society op London was instituted by 
His Majesty, ELing Charles IL, their Founder and Patron, 
and since, from time to time, supported by the due Care 
and benevolence of its own Members ; all along remem* 
bering, at least as a Society, not to assert any thing but 
what ocular demonstration would allow to be matter of 
fact, in spite of the hypothetical influence of Aristo« 
telians, Cartesians, Adepts, Astrologers, and common 

" It were, therefore, to be wish'd, that such as have 
Opportunity, Capacities, and the Advantage of good 
Telescopes, would be pleased to communicate all Astro^ 
nomical and other Observations, whether of the Spots 
in the Heart of the Sun, of their situations and variation 
therein ; of their increase and decrease ; or of the 
Nebuhe mentioned by that universal scholar, and most 
acute Philosopher, Dr. Halley, in the Philosophical Trans* 
actions*''; of new and strange Stars appearing, or of 
others disappearing ; of Comets, and of all Eclipsesi 
whether of the Sun, Moon, Stars, or Satellites. 

** No less acceptable would be accurate accounts of 
all uncommon appearances in the Heavens ; such as 
Aurorw Boreales, Thunder and Lightning ; particularly 
noting the time between the Fla^h and the Crack, and the 
like Phamamenas : also Registers of the Winds and Wea- 
ther, of the Thermometer and Barometer, of the quan- 
tity of Rain that falls upon any space of ground, though 
but a foot square ; of the constant Flux and Reflux of 

*7 See No. 347. 


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426 HISTORY OF [1715 — M. 

of Tides for some time, and how low they ebb, and the 
Moon's Age at the time of observing them. 

" All new Discoveries in Natural History would be 
also very acceptable and desirable; such as good de- 
scriptions of Quadrupeds, Birds, Reptiles, Insects, Am- 
phibious Animals, Fish, whether Testaceous, or of other 
kinds ; of Plants, Minerals, Fossils, or the like, that are 
either met with but rarely, ill treated by the authors 
that write of them, or that have hitherto pass'd unre- 
garded ; whether they may be of any advantage to man- 
kind as Food or Fhysick, and whether those, or any 
other uses of them, can be further improved. 

" Dissections of Morbid Bodies, whether human or 
of other Animals, are highly wanted by the Society, with 
particular Belations of the Farts decayed or affected ; 
and all Anatomical Discoveries. 

'* New experiments, either in Chymistry, such as 
those of the learned Dr. Friend in his Prcekctumes Chy- 
micm; or in Pharmacy; such as what Medicines are 
easily incorporated together, and what not; and how 
compound Medicines may be reduc'd more simple, yet 
answer the same end. 

''Improvements in Agriculture would be in like 
bianner gratefully received, such as the best and most 
commodious ways to water high grounds, drain the more 
wet and low, to meliorate the barren, and to enrich even 
fertile land. 

" No less valuable would be new Inventions, or Im- 
provements, in Mechanicks, with Descriptions of Ma- 
chines, Engines, Instruments, or the like; with exact 
Histories of all sorts of curious and beneficial Trades 
in any Country." 

The Author then refers to Papers in the Philo- 
sophical Transactions^ and the Memoirs of the Aca-* 


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J715 — 20.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 427 

demy of Sciences at Paris, as models of philosophical 
writing, &c. for those who purposed drawing up 
memoirs for the Society. This is followed by the 
names and addresses of the most eminent Fellows of 
the Society, with Greek characters answering to their 
sciences thus symbolized : — 

Natund PhUoiophy and Mathsmatich a 

Aitronomy /? 

Geometry 7 

Optu^ Z 

Natural History € 

Anatomy f 

Chymistry n 

Meckanieks 6 

Huthandry^ Chrdening and Planting i 

Antiquities k 

The reader will probably be interested to have a 
specimen of the list of names : — 

Sir Isaac Newton, St. Martin Street, Leicester Fields .... apyl 

Edmund Halley, Prince's Street, Bridgewater Square ap 6t y 

John Machin, Astronomical Professor, Gresham College., ap 6c y 

Sir Hans Sloane, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbuiy « < & C 

Brook Taylor, LL.D. gecretaiy, Norfolk Street a 7 & S 

William Cbeselden, Surgeon, SadWs Hall ^ 

J.T. Desaguliers, Channel Row, Westminster ay 8cl 

Martin Folkes, Southampton Street, Coyent Garden ..... a 8c k 

John KeiU, Gray's Inn afiScy 

Peter Le Neve, Herald's Office k 

Earl of Pembroke, St. James's Square k 

Frederick Slare, Black Lion, Holbom ^^ & C 

Abraham de Moivre, Slaughters Coffi^e House, St. Mar- 
tin's Lane a 8c y 

Thus, in the words of the Author, " ingenious per- 
sons may at once know where to address themselves 
for their learned wants." The entire pamphlet is 
curious, and bears the impress of having been com- 
piled and published under the sanction and patronage 


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428 HISTORY OP [1715 — 20. 

of the Society, for we are told, that " anything remark- 
able, rare, or curious, towards augmenting their reposi- 
tory of Rarities, may be directed to be left at the 
Society's House in Crane Court, for either of the 
•Secretaries, and will be considered no unacceptable 

In 1715 the Society acquired an accession of 
property, in the form of a small estate at Mable- 
thorpe, in Lincolnshire, consisting of 55 acres^ 2 roods, 
and 2 perches**, bequeathed by Francis Aston, Esq., 
who, it will be remembered, resigned the office of 
Secretary in 1685. He also left a considerable 
number of books and some personal property to 
the Society, which, after paying off certain debts, 
amounted to 445/. 

The Society's funds were further augmented, in 
1717, by a bequest from Dr. Paget, a Fellow, of two 
houses in Coleman Street, which brought in a rental 
of about 100/. per annum. These houses were re- 
quired in 1835 by the City authorities, in order that 
they might be taken down to improve the new Lon- 
don Bridge approaches, and a sum (according to valua- 
tion) of 3150/. was paid to the Society for them, 
which was immediately vested in the public securities. 

In 1719 another bequest of 500/. was received 
from Robert Keck, Esq., who was elected a Fellow 
in 1713. The object of this legacy, as will be seen 
by the subjoined extract from the Will of the testator, 
was to enable the Society to carry on foreign corre- 
spondence by means of a paid officer. 

" I give unto the President, Council, and Fellows, 
of the Royal Society of London for the enereasing 

^* This estate is still in the Society's possession. 


zed by Google 

1715 — ^20.] THE fiOYAL SOCIETY. 429 

Naturall Knowledge, five hundred pounds^', to be by 
them laid out, and the profits arising, to be bestowed 
on some one of the Fellows, whom they shall appoint 
to carry on a foreign correspondence." 

From this legacy originated the office of Foreign 
Secretary, which still forms a portion of the official 
establishment of the Royal Society. The Council 
were in some doubt as to their power of appointing 
under the terms of Mr. Keek's will, and consequently 
laid the following questions before the Attorney- 
General for his opinion. 

'^1. Whether the election of the person to be ap- 
pointed for carrying on a Foreign Correspondence, be in 
the Society or in the Council. 

" 2. Whether the election of this officer is to be 
annual or not. To which the Attorney-General replied 

^' 1. By the Charter the Council have the making of 
all By-Laws, and have the government of the whole 
body of the Society, and to them is likewise given by 
the same Charter, the care, management, and disposal of 
the money, profits, and revenues of the Society, as well 
such as are established by Charter, as what are casually 
given by will or otherwise ; it also seems as plain, from 
the latter part of the Charter, that the indulgence of a 
foreign correspondence is given to the whole Society ; 
but the exercise and management of that power is ex- 
pressly committed to the care of the President and 
Council ; and, therefore, I am of opinion that the Coun- 
cil may, by virtue of the will of Mr. Keck, apply such 

^ The sum actually received amounted to 54?/. I Of. which Sir 
Isaac Newton paid into the Treasuiex^s hands. ConncO-book, YoL u. 
p. 272. 


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430 HISTOBY OF [1720—25. 

sums of money as they think reasonable to such persoa 
or persons as they shall from time to time appoint to 
manage such foreign correspondence, without the inter* 
position of the whole body. 

*' 2. I think the best way will be for the Council to 
appoint such person, from time to time^ as they think 
proper, to manage the foreign correspondence for the 
Boyal Society, during the pleasure of the Council^.'' 

In conformity with this opinion, the Council 
appointed Mr. Zollman to conduct the foreign corre- 
spondence : he was styled Assistant to the Secretaries^ 
and held the office to the period of his decease in 

In 1724, the increasing property of the Society 
caused the Council to memorialize George I. for a 
license to purchase or hold lands, &c. in Mortmain. 
It is a remarkable circumstance, that no copy of this 
petition exists in the Journal or Council-books of the 
Society, although it is frequently alluded to, and is 
stated to have been lost or mislaid in the office of 
the Secretary of State ; a circumstance that led the 
Council to draw up another, couched in similar terms. 

Having heard from Mr. Lemon, of the State-Paper 
Office, that the above documents were preserved in 
that depository, I obtained permission to make co- 
pies of them. As, however, they are conceived in 
nearly the same words, the first in order is only tran- 
scribed ; 

^ Council-minutes, Vol. m. p. 11. 

<^ Mr. Zollman was a Fellow of the Sooietj: his office at thai' 
period was any thing but a sinecure, as the Society reoeived a great 
number of foreign communications, all of which were translated for 
the purpose of being read at the ordinary Meetrngs, and entered 
into the Register-book. 


zed by Google 

1720 — 25.'] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 431 

<'To THE KiNo'^s Most Exobllbnt Majesty. 
" The humble Petition of the President, Council, and 
Fellows of the Royall Society of London for 
improving Natural Knowledge : 


" That His Late Majesty King Charles 
II., by letters patent bearing date the Twenty Second 
day of April, in the fifteenth year of his Beign, did 
ordain, constitute, and appoint the Eoyall Society of 
London for improving Natural Knowledge, and did 
thereby grant them license to purchase in Mortmain. 

''That, since the grant of the said letters patent, 
severall well-disposed persons have devised and granted 
to your Petitioners and their successors diverse landa 
and hereditaments, and given severall sumes of money 
to your Petitioners for the use of the said Corporation, 
and your Petitioners being desirous to invest the same 
money in the most desirable manner for the improve- 
ment of the said Corporation^' : 

" Your Petitioners, therefore, most humbly beseech 
your M^'esty's Royall License to hold and ei\joy the 
lands and hereditaments which have been devised and 
granted to them and their successors for ever, for the 
use and benefit of the said Corporation, such Manors, 
Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments, as they shall 
think fitt to purchase, or shall receive by Will, or any 
Deed of Conveyance, not exceeding the yearly value of 
One Thousand Pounds. 

'^ Accompanying this petition, was an affidavit by Mr. Hawks*' 
bee, derk to the Society, setting forth the property of the Society^ 
which is described as consisting of, two messuages in Crane Coort ; 
certain lands and hereditaments in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire ; two 
bouses in Coleman Street, devised by the Rev. Dr. Paget in 1717; 
and a fee-farm in Sussex of 2il. per annum. 


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432 HISTORY OF [1720—25.. 

" And your Petitioners (as in duty bound) will ever 
pray, &c." 

The Petition, which is on a large sheet of paper, 
bears the date of the 23rd June, 1724 ; it is signed 
by Sir Isaac Newton in a firm bold hand, and on the 
back are the signatures of the following members of 
Council, who were present when the seal of the 
Society was affixed : — George Parker, Hans Sloane, 
M. Folkes, Wm. Jones, John Browne, James Jurin, 
Tho. Watkins, Edmund Halley, Jo. Harwood, James 
Pound, and John Machin". 

The Petition was submitted to the King on the 
30th June, as appears by the memorandum written 
on the margin. 

''At a Court at Kensington, 30th June, 1724; 
"His Mnjesty having been moved upon this Peti- 
tion, is graciously pleased to refer the same to Mr. 
Attorney, or Mr. Solicitor-General, to consider thereof, 
and report his opinion what His Majesty may fitly do 

On the 2l8t July, the Attorney-General delivered 
his opinion, which is likewise preserved in the State- 
Paper Office. It is as follows : — 

" Having perused the Petition and Affidavit, I am 
humbly of opinion that your Migesty may lawfully grant 
to the Petitioners your Royall Licence, enabling them 
and their successors to hold and ei\joy the lands and 
hereditaments which have been already devised or 
granted to the said Corporation, and to pturchase, hold, 
and enjoy to them and their successors for ever, for the 

"* This interesting document is preserved amongst the domestic 
State Papers for the year 1724, and is numbered 37* 


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1720 — ^25.] THE fiOYAL SOCIETY. 433 

use and benefit of the said Corporation, such Manors, 
Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments, as they shall 
think fit to purchase, or shall be devised, granted, or 
conveyed to them, not exceeding in the whole the 
yearly value of lOOOt 

" All which is most humbly submitted to your Ma- 
jesty's most Boyall Wisdom, 

"Signed, P. Yorkb. 

"/u/y, 21, 1724." 

In consequence of this favourable opinion, his 
Majesty granted the Society the required License, a 
copy of which will be found in the Appendix. 

VOL. I. F P 

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Impetus g;iTen to the Study of Meteorology — ^Illneas of Sir I. New- 
ton — His last Attendance at the Sodety — His Death — His 
intention of endowing the Society — Speculates in South Sea 
Scheme — ^His Order to purchase Stock — His Sun-Dial pre- 
sented to the Society — Portraits of him — Original Mask of his 
Face — ^Lock of his Hair — Sir Hans Sloane elected President — 
Memoir of him— Proposes an Address to George II. — His Ma- 
jesty hecomes the Patron of the Society — Important changes 
made in the Statutes — Proposition to limit the number of Fel* 
lows — Opinion of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke — Certificates for 
Candidates first used — ^Their great Value— Diplomas — Fordgn 
Members exempted from Payments — Society purchase Estate 
at Acton — Practice of Inoculation promoted — Prince of Wales 
visits the Society — Experiments made before him — Dr. Wat- 
son's Electrical Experiments — Science of Electricity originates 
from Royal Society — Large amount of Scientific Business-^ 
Experiments on Ether — ^Society at Peterborough — Donation 
to Museum — ^Botanical Specimens sent from Apothecaries' Gar- 
den at Chelsea, by order of Sir Hans Sloane — Pecuniary embar- 
rassment of the Society — Sir Hans Sloane resigns — ^Thanks of 
Society given to him — His great attachment to the Society- 
Martin Folkes elected President. 



N 1725 the Society gave a great impulse to the 
■ study of Meteorology, by sending barometers and 
thermometers to several of their correspondents 
abroad, who professed their willingness to make ob- 
servations : as many as eighteen of these instruments 
were provided at the Society's expense. This subject 
was brought before the Council by Dr. James Jurin, 
who had been elected Secretary in 1721, and who 


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undertook to transmit the instruments to their desti- 
nation ^ 

In the Preface to a volume of the PkUosophical 
Transactions, published at this period, it is stated: 
" Ingenious travellers are now furnished with extra- 
ordinary accommodations, that were not known to 
former ages ; as thermometers, barometers, hygro- 
meters, microscopes, telescopes, micrometers^ exact 
scales and weights promptly to weigh liquors^ and 
with other circumstances to examine the intrinsic 
value of all coins and medals, or metals ; pendulum- 
watches^ instruments and indexes for magnetical varia- 
tions, and inclinatory needles, and other helps to ascer- 
tain longitudes, and other mechanical contrivances 
for manifold uses." 

The Transactions and Journal-books contain a 
great number of Meteorological Observations com- 
municated by foreigners, who appear to have made 
good use of the instruments sent to them. During 
the year 1726, the name of Sir Isaac Newton does not 
occur so frequently at the Council and ordinary Meet- 
ings of the Royal Society, as in former years, but still, 
to within a short time of his decease, he occasionally 
fulfilled his duties as President. It is well known 

^ Dr. Jurin was a very respectable philosopher oi the New- 
tonian school, who cnltivated medicine and mathematics with equal 
success. He proved a very active and us^ul Member of the Royal 
Society. His communications in the TranntetwM extend from 
VoL 30 to Vol. 66 indnsive. Dr. Jurin was among the earliest 
and most able advocates for the inoculation of the small-pox, a 
practice at that time newly introduced into England, and which 
had to struggle against the prejudices and opposition, not of the 
vulgar only, but of a very large proportion of medical practitioners. 
He died on the 22nd March, 1750. 

^ FF2 


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436 HISTORY OF [1725 — 30. 

that during the last year of his life he scarcely ever 
went to the Mint; his office at that establishment 
being filled by Mr, Conduit, who lived with Newton 
iii his house at Kensington, having married his niece, 
the beautiful Mrs. Catherine Barton. Sir Isaac wasr 
absent fi-om the Anniversary Meeting in 1726, oa 
which occasion he was, however, as usual re-elected 
President. On the 16th February, 1726—7, he at- 
tended an ordinary Meeting of the Society, when an 
unusual amount of scientific business was transacted ; 
and on the 28th February he went into town to 
preside at a Meeting of the Council and an ordinary 
Meeting, held on the 2nd March. These were the 
last occasions on which he presided over Meetings 
of the Royal Society. According to his biographers, 
he suffered so miich fatigue and excitement^ that 
after returning to Kensington his former complaint 
(the stone) returned with redoubled violence. Mr. 
Conduit says, *'As soon as I heard of his illness, I 
carried Dr. Mead and Mr. Cheselden to him, who 
immediately said it was stone in the bladder, and 
gave no hopes of his recovery. The stone was pro- 
bably moved from the place where it lay quiet, by 
the great motion and fatigue of his last journey to 
London, from which time he had violents fits of pain 
with very short intermissions ; and though the drops 
of sweat ran down his face with anguish, he never 
complained nor cried out, nor shewed the least signs 
of peevishness or impatience, and during the short 
intervals from that violent torture, would smile and 
talk with his usual cheerfulness. On Wednesday the 
15th March, he seemed a little better, and we con- 
ceived some hopes of his recovery, but without 
grounds. On Saturday morning, the 18th, he read 


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1725 — ^30.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 437 

the newspapers, and held a pretty long discourse with 
Dr. Mead, and had all his senses perfect: but that 
evening at six, and all Sunday, he was insensible, and 
died on Monday, the 20th March, between one and 
two o'clock in the morning. He seemed to have 
stamina mtoe (except the accidental disorder of the 
stone) to have carried him to a much longer age. To 
the last, he had all his senses and faculties strong, 
vigorous, and lively, and he continued writing and 
studying many hours every day to the time of his last 

Thus died Sir Isaac Newton, tl -^ most illustrious 
among the Presidents of the Royal Society, having 
filled this high oflBce for upwards of twenty years. At 
the last ordinary Meeting over which he presided, he 
laid before the Society a letter from the then newly- 
established Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg, 
giving an account of the founding of the Academy by 
the Imperial Monarch, who was desirous of following 
the example of the English, in encouraging and culti- 
vating science. The letter concludes with an assurance 
that the Petersburg Academicians ''are the more 
inclined to make their addresses to, and desire most 
to have the approbation of, the Royal Society, as being 
the first of the kind, and that which gave rise to all 
the rest'." To so ardent a lover of science for its 
own sake as Newton, this communication must have 
afforded sincere pleasure, testifying, as it does, to an 
earnest desire to imitate a Society made so illustrious 

* Tumours Collections^ p. 166. 

3 The letter adds, that the Academy cannot fail to furnish some 
observations in Astronomy, in a part of the world where that 
science has not been much cultivated. 


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438 HISTORY OF [1725 — 30, 

by his Presidency- At the Meeting of Council, held on 
the same day, and convened by Newton's orders, the 
only business recorded as having been transacted, was 
calling upon the Astronomer-Royal (Edmund Halley), 
in the name of the President, for copies of his Astro- 
nomical Observations, which he had neglected to send 
to the Society. According to the Minutes, Sir Isaac 
Newton ordered the late Queen's letter to be rea4 
directing the Astronomer-Royal to transmit copies of 
his Observations to the Society, and that he (the Pre- 
sident) *^ thought it proper to take this opportunity, 
now the Royal Astronomer was present, to put them 
in mind of the said precept." When it is remembered 
that Newton was then 85 years of age, this active zeal 
and energy must be admitted to exhibit a devotion 
to science which has never been surpassed, if, indeed, 

Appended to the Minutes of Council, is a note 
recording that *^ Sir Isaac Newton departed his life on 
Monday the 20th March, 1726—7 ;" and the Minutes 
of the ordinary Meetings in the Journal-book inform 
us, that on the 23rd March, '' the chair being vacant by 
the death of Sir Isaac Newton, there was no Meeting 
this day." 

On the 28th March, the London Gazette an-> 

^ Not long before hia decease, we find him writing to the 
Duke D'Aumont, acknowledging a communication made to the 
Society : — " The little you were pleased to honour us with, came 
80 late to the hand of the|6ociety, that I could not sooner return 
you their thanks for the same. It was read in a full Meeting. And 
whenever any thing comes before them, which may be worth your 
Grace's taking notice of, they will take care to have it communi- 
cated. And in the mean time, they have desired me to signify to 
your Grace how exceedingly you have obliged them." MS. Letters : 
Boyal Society. 


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1725 — 50.] THE EOYAL SOCIETY. 439 

nounced that " the corpse of Sir Isaac Newton lay in 
state in the Jerusalem Chamber, and was buried from 
thence in Westminster Abbey, near the entry into 
the choir. The pall was supported by the Lord High 
Chancellor, the Dukes of Montrose and Roxborough, 
and the Earls of Pembroke, Sussex, and Macclesfield, 
being Fellows of the Royal Society. The Hon. Sir 
Michael Newton, Knight of the Bath, was chief 
mourner, and was followed by some other relations, and 
several eminent persons intimately acquainted with 
the deceased. The office was performed by the Bishop 
of Rochester, attended by the prebend and choir." 

The relatives of Sir Isaac Newton, who inherited 
his personal estate, devoted 500/. to the erection of a 
monument in Westminster Abbey, which was exe* 
cuted in 1731. 

Heame says, that ^' Sir Isaac Newton promised to 
become a benefactor to the Royal Society, but fiiiled." 
He certainly had ample means at his disposal to effect 
this object, for he died worth about 32,000/. personal 
estate. Among the memorials of the great philo- 
sopher in the possession of the Royal Society, is an 
order, addressed by him to Dr. Ffouquier*, directing 
certain sums in his possession, belonging to Newton, 
to be applied to the purchase of South Sea stock, at 
a time when that stock had nearly reached its maxi- 
mum. It is written in a plain hand, and runs thus : — 

* Dr. John Francis Ffouquier was a French Protestant, who 
emigrated to this country on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. 
He was born in 1669. From the books of the Bank of England, 
it appears that on the 12th August, 1699, he opened a banking 
account with that company to a very large amount. On the 24th 
Dec., 1720, he was the holder of 10,250/. South Sea stock. He 
was one of the earliest Governors of Guy's Hospital, under the will 
of the founder. He died in 1748. 


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440 HISTORY OF [1725 — 30. 

*' Mint Ojffiee, 27 July^ 1720. 
*' I DESIRE you to subscribe for me, and in my name, 
the several Annuities'you have in your hands belonging 
to me, amounting in the whole to six hundred and fifty 
pounds, per, and for which this shall be your warrant. 

"Isaac Newton. 
" To Dr. John Francis Ffouquier.^ 

Dr. WoUaston*, to whom the Society are indebted 
for this very interesting autograph note, observes, in 
liis letter accompanying it, that ^'not knowing any 
such occurrence in the life of Newton had ever been 
made public, he was for many years unwilling to 
divulge the transaction ; but having since found that 
the losses which Newton sustained by the South Sea 
ficheme have been noticed in the biographical memoir 
drawn up on the authority of Mr. Conduit, he no 
longer hesitates to present the document, being satis- 
fied that it will be considered by every reflecting 
mind an instructive instance of the soundest under- 
standing being liable to have its judgment perverted 
by the appearance of enormous profit, and to forget 
that such profit can only be aimed at with propor- 
tionate risk of failure." 

Dr. WoUaston adds that the stock originally pur* 
chased by Dr. Ffouquier in July 1720, increased in 
September 1721, to the enormous sum of 21,696/. Qs^ 
4rfL, which w^as transferred in 1722, and 1723'. It is 

® Dr. WoUaston received the above document from his father, 
the Rev. Francis WoUaston, F. R. S., whose mother was the daugh- 
ter of Dr. Ffouquier, to whom the order of Newton is addressed. 

7 When examining some official papers in the State-Paper 
Office, relating to the Royal Society, I found a voluminous petition 
to the Crown, from the Directors of the South Sea Company, ex- 
tending to 60 foUo pages, and bearing the date of July 23, 1724^ 


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1725—30.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 441 

thus apparent that Newton could easily have left the 
Society a legacy, or endowed them during his lifetime : 
but although he did neither the one nor the other, 
he bequeathed to the institution a fame which a 
period of 120 years has not diminished. The chaur, 
so long filled by Newton, will always, while science 
numbers a votary, be regarded with feelings of honour 
and admiration, and to occupy it will be the proudest 
boast of the British philosopher*. 

setting forth the fearful difficulties under which they were lahour- 
ing, and praying for immediate relief; and, in particular, to he 
exempted from the duty of ten shillings on Negroes imported into, 
and twenty shillings upon Negroes exported from, Jamaica; thus 
showing, that at the time Newton's stock was transferred, the ahyss 
was on the point of opening in which thousands were subsequently 

It will be well to remember, that Newton was not the only 
great man implicated in this foolish adventure. Statesmen of the 
highest intellect participated in the speculation. Walpole, who 
must have been aware of the pit which was about to swaUow up 
the public credit, profited by the public credulity until he had 
filled his purse. Pope is stated by his biographers to have lost a 
large sum of money, although, at one time, his stock was worth 
from 20,000/. to 30,000/. It will be recollected, that Swift in 
the Voyage to Laputa, (published in 17^6,) visited with merited 
severity the many quack schemes which abounded at that period. 
The plans of their projectors were usually based upon some smat- 
tering of science, or some supposed discovery, which they had not 
ability to verify before setting their bubble afloat. But Swift, with 
the caustic energy which so strongly marked his character, shot 
some of his shafts where no reproof was needed. The Voyage to 
Laputa was disliked by Arbuthnot and other Fellows of the Royal 
Society, though the satire was probably intended by its author to 
be rather aimed against the abuse of philosophical science than at 
its reality. 

® Voltaire visited England in the years 1726 — 7> when he 
resided principally at Wandsworth. He had the great merit of 
introducing Newton's theories into France. His observations on 



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442 HISTOBY OF [1725— SO. 

Another memorial of Newton in the possession of 
the Royal Society, is one of the solar dials made by 
him when a boy. This interesting relic was presented 
to the Society in 1844, by the Rev, Charles Tumor, 
F.R.S., accompanied by the following letter addressed 
to the Marquis of Northampton, President of the 

" My Lord, " CheUmham, May 24, 1844. 

" Your Lordship having been pleased to 
express a wish that I should furnish a detailed account 
of the Newtonian Dial which I have had the honour of 
presenting to the Royal Society, I beg to submit to 
your Lordship the following particulars. The dial was 
taken down in the early part of the present year from 

the Royal Society which were made at this period, are yery in- 
teresting. After giving the date of its establishment, he says : 
*' ElU n'a point de recompenses comme la ndtre ; mais aussi elU est 
libre; point de ces distinctions d^sagreahles^ inventees par Fabbe 
Bignon^ qui distribua rAcademie des Sciences en savans quon 
payaity et en konoraires qui nStaient pas savans. La Soci6te de 
Londres indipendante^ et n^tant encouraySe que par elle mhne^ 
a Hi composSe de sujets qui ont trouri le calcul de Tinfiniy lee 
lots de la lumiere^ celles de la pesanteur^ Taherration des StoileSy le 
telescope de rSflexion^ le pompe a /euy le microscope solaire^ et beau- 
coup ctautres inventions aussi utiles qu'admirables, Qu'auraient fait 
de plus ces grands hommes s'ils avaient ^te pensionnaires on hono- 
raires T (EuvreSy VoL xxvi. 443. Voltaire had a far higher opinion 
of the Royal Society than of the French Academy. He says, that 
he was once asked in England respecting the memoirs of the latter 
body. ^^Elle nicrit point de Mimmres^ was his answer, " mais elle 
a fait imprim£r soixante ou quatre vinyls volumes de complimens." 
It was Piron who said that a discours de reception at the Academy 
ought never to exceed three words, ^'que le recepiendaire doit dire^ 
Messieurs^ grand merfiy et le directeur rSpondra^ II n'y a pas de 
qw>ir This advice arose probably from the speeches of many 
being, as was whimsically said, "/owy et plat comma tipie de 


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1725 30.1 THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 443 

the South wall of the Manor House at Woolsthorpe, a 
hamlet to Colsterworth, in the county of Lincohi, the 
birthplace of Newton. 

^' The house is built of stone, and the dial, now in 
the possession of the Royal Society, was marked on a 
large stone in the south wall, at the angle of the build- 
ing, and about six feet from the ground, and was re- 
duced to its present dimensions for the convenience of 
carriage* The name of Newton, with the exception of 
the first two letters, which have been obliterated by the 
hand of time, will, on close inspection, appear to have 
been inscribed under the dial in rude and capital let- 
ters. There is also another dial marked on the wall, 
smaller than the former, and not in such good preser- 
vation. The above are the only dials about the house 
which I have been able to discover, nor can I find by 
inquiry on the spot that more ever existed, though some 
of Newton's biographers assert that there were several. 
An opinion has always prevailed, that the dials now in 
being were executed by Newton's own hand when a 
boy, which appears probable from the well-known fact, 
that, at a very early period of his life, he discovered a 
genius for mechanical contrivances, evinced, more par- 
ticularly, by the construction of a windmill of his own 
invention, and a clock to go by water applied to its 
machinery. Finding, however, this latter contrivance 
(however ingenious) to fail in keeping accurate time, 
it is not improbable that, with a view to secure that 
object, he formed with his own hands the two dials in 
question; and, very probably, the dial now remaining 
in the wall of the house, from its inferiority in point of 
construction to that now in the possession of the Royal 
Society, was his first attempt in dial-making. The gno- 
mons of these dials have, unfortunately, disappeared 


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444 HISTORY OF [1725 — Sa 

many years, but as they are described in some of the 
printed accounts as ehumy performances, it may be con- 
cluded that they were not the work of a professed 
mechanic, but were, probably, formed and applied by 
J^ewton himself when he constructed the dials. 

'' I trust your Lordship will allow me to express the 
high satisfaction I feel in seeing this very interesting 
relic in the possession of that Society of which Newton 
was so distinguished an ornament, and over which he 
presided more than twenty years. 

'' I must beg your Lordship's permission to add that, 
for the gratification which I experience on this occa- 
sion, I am greatly indebted to my nephew, Christopher 
Tumor, Esq., of Stoke, Eochford, to whom the manor- 
house and landed property of Newton now belong, and 
who not only permitted, but kindly encouraged me to 
offer this valuable relic to that Society, which he, as well 
as myself, consider as its fittest and most appropriate 

"I have the honour to be, 

"My Lord, 
" Your Lordship's humble Servant, 
" Charlbs Tubnor. 
" Th$ Marquis of Northampton, 

A representation of this dial, or rather relic, for 
Time's gnawing tooth has dealt so roughly with it, 
as to have nearly effaced the original cutting, is in- 
serted at the end of this chapter. It is now preserved 
in a well-made strong oaken box, with a plate-glass 
cover, and will, it is to be hoped, endure for many 

» FhiL Trans, for 1845, p. 141. 


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1725 — 30.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 445 

The Society possess three portraits in oil of their 
former illustrious President. One, painted by C. 
Jervas, was presented by Newton, and is appropri- 
ately placed over the President's chair in the Meet- 
ing-room; another, in the Library, was painted by 
D. C. Marchand; and the third, which hangs in 
my OflRce, was presented to the Society in 1841, 
by Charles VignoUes, Esq., the eminent engineer, 
accompanied by the subjoined letter addressed to the 
Marquis of Northampton. 

"4, Trafalgar Square^ 

" My Lord, London, March 25, 1841. 

" I HAVB the honour of transmitting to 
your Lordship, for presentation to the Royal Society, an 
original portrait of Sir laacu: Newton^ by Vanderbank^ a 
Dutch painter of some note in that age. This picture 
has now been many years in my possession, and the 
tenure by which I have kept it (as the collateral de- 
scendant of so illustrious a man) was too flattering not 
to have been a source of great personal gratification. 

" But I consider such a portrait to belong of right 
to the scientific world in general, and more especially to 
that eminently distinguished Society of which Newton 
was once the head, and which is now so ably presided 
over by your Lordship. 

'* I have, therefore, to request your Lordship will do 
me the honour to present this original portrait of Sir 
Isaac Newton to the Royal Society, in my humble name. 

^' Accident having destroyed some of the papers of 
my family, I am unable of myself to trace the entire 
history of this portrait ; but, I believe, more than one 
Member of the Royal Society is competent to do so^ 
and it is well known to collectors ; and a small mezzo- 
tinto engraving of it was published about forty years 


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446 msTORY OP [1725 — 30. 

ago. It was painted the year before Newton died, and 
came into the family of the celebrated Lord Stanhope, 
who left it by his will to my grandfather, the late Dr. 
Charles Hutton, a distinguished Member of the Boyal 
Society, expressly on the weU-anthenticated account of 
that eminent mathematician having been remotely de- 
scended from Sir Isaac Newton in the following way, as 
I find on a family MS., viz : that the mother of the 
well-known James Hutton, and the mother of Dr. 
Charles Hutton, were sisters ; and the grandmother of 
James Hutton, and the mother of Sir Isaac Newton, 
were also sisters. 

" I have ever considered this very distant connexion 
with so great a man should not be an inducement to 
lead me into any but casual mention of the circum- 
stance, that I might avoid the imputation of a vain 
boast; nor would it have been brought forward now, 
except to explain the cause by which this portrait came 
into the possession of an individual, who is happy in 
relinquishing it to grace the Hall of Meeting of the 
Royal Society^^ 

" I have the honour to subscribe myself, 
" Your Lordship's vely obedient humble Servant, 
(Signed) Charles Yignoixes. 

" The Marquis of Northampton" 

Besides these portraits, which are in excellent 
preservation, the Society possess the original mask of 
Sir Isaac Newton's face, from the cast taken after 
death, which belonged to Roubilliac. For this truly 
interesting relic the Fellows are indebted to Samuel 
Hunter Christie, Esq., Secretary to the Society, and 
Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Military Aca* 

*• Archives : Royal Society. 

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^j-j. /hu'kn . 


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1725 — SO.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 447 

demy at Woolwich, who presented it to them, in the 
year 1839. The history of this mask, as related to 
me by Mr. Christie, is extremely curious. Being de- 
sirous of purchasing a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, Mr. 
Christie entered the shop of a dealer in statues in 
Tichborne Street To Mr. Christie's question, whether 
he had any bust of the philosopher to dispose of, the 
dealer replied, that though he had no bust, he had an 
old mask of Newton, which his father had purchased 
50 or 60 years before, at the sale of Roubilliac's 
effects, and which he had kept on his shelves amongst 
various articles of his trade. It was evident that the 
dealer regarded the relic as little better than useless 
lumber, and this is confirmed by his having consented 
to dispose of it for a few shillings. 

Mr. Christie, having borne off his prize, had a few 
casts taken from it, and subsequently enjoyed the great 
satisfaction of placing it in a repository, not only the 
most fitted for its reception, but where it will be 
hallowed and preserved with religious care as long as 
the Royal Society exists. Though much injured by 
rough treatment, it will be seen by those who are 
acquainted with the authentic portraits of Newton, 
that the mask, which is copied in the annexed draw- 
ing, presents the characteristic features of the Society's 
former illustrious President. 

In addition to these memorials of the great phi- 
losopher, another of a very interesting nature has 
lately come into the possession of the Society, as ex- 
plained in the following letter from the donor. 

'' Sib, "27 Bedford Row, October 25thy 1847. 

'* I AM in possession of a very small lock of 
silver-white hair, which is wrapp'd in a paper marked 
* Sir I. Newton,' and which, from the circumstances 


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448 HISTORY OF [1725 — 30. 

upder which it came to me, I have no doubt whatever 
belonged to that eminent philosopher. 

" As I believe the Univeraity of Cambridge possess 
and highly value a similar relic, I am led to presume 
that the Royal Society, which already possesses several 
memorials of that illustrious man, would feel interested 
in adding it to their collection. 

" As I am conscious that the relic would be valueless 
unless its authenticity were unquestionable, I will ob- 
serve that the family of Sir Isaac Newton were con- 
nected by marriage with the family of Barton, and these 
latter with the Burrs, who are my relations on the 
maternal side, and through one of whom the article 
came into my possession. In corroboration of which 
connexion I may add, a former member of the Burr 
family was christened Newton Barton. 

''Should the Society consider this communication 
worthy their attention, I shall be happy to be favoured 
with a reply. 

" I am, Sir, 
" Your very obedient Servant, 
"Henry 6'arlino. 
"C. R. Weld, JSsq. 
Assistant Secretary to the Royal Society'* 

I immediately answered this letter, and assured 
Mr. Garling that the Society, I had no doubt, would 
highly value the interesting relic of their former 
President, referred to in his communication, which 
would be laid before the Council. Mr. Garling, in 
reply, invited me to his house, to examine the lock 
of hair, and the family documents relating to it ; at the 
same time stating his wish to present it to the Society. 

The result of my visit enabled me to report to the 
Council my entire belief in the genuineness of the 


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1725 — SO.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 44^ 

lock of hair. It was accordingly accepted, and the 
thanks of the President, Council, and Fellows, speci- 
ally voted to Mr. Garling for his esteemed present". 

The death of Sir Isaac Newton was a heavy blow 
to the Royal Society, who were highly sensible of the 
great honour which his presidency had devolved upon 
them. They were naturally proud in the conscious- 
ness, that it was not only in England, but almost 
amongst themselves, that he had, in the eloquent lan- 
guage of Dr. Young, "advanced with one gigantic 
stride from the regions of twilight into the noonday 
of Science." Throughout all his scientific, and not 
always peaceful labours, they supported him with 
steady constancy ; thus manifesting their sense of his 
mighty genius and brilliant discoveries. 

It was fortunate for the Society, that Sir Ilans 
Sloane had attained to so high a scientific eminence 
at the period of Newton's decease, as to render the 
choice of a President less embarrassing than it would 
otherwise have been. He had acted so long in the 
capacity of Secretary, and Vice-President, and had 
always manifested so lively an interest in the welfare 
of the Society, that there could have been little 
hesitation, on the part of the Council, in selecting him 
to fill the office of President. Nor indeed was there ; 
for we find that on the 29th March, when a full 
Council assembled for the special purpose of electing 
a President, "Su: Hans Sloane was unanimously 
elected, and was accordingly declared and sworn ;" an4 
at the Anniversary Meeting in November his election 
was confirmed by a large majority. 

" The lock is now enclosed in a small mahogany box, with a 
glass cover. The hair is singnlarlj fine, and when examined under 
a lens, appears htidetcent. 

VOL. I. G G 


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450 HISTORY OF [1725 — SO. 

Sir Hans Sloane was born at Killeleagh, in the north 
of Ireland, on the 16th April, 1660. Though a native 
of the sister island, he was of Scotch extraction, his 
father, Alexander Sloane, having been the head of 
a colony of Scots, settled in Ulster by James I. 
From a very early period he manifested a great 
inclination for the $tudy of natural history and medi- 
cine, which was strengthened by a suitable education. 
When about sixteen years of age, he was attacked by 
a spitting of blood, which threatened to be attended 
with considerable danger, and interrupted the re- 
gular course of his application for three years. He 
had already learned enough of medicine, to know that 
a malady of this nature was not to be suddenly 
removed, and he prudently abstained from wine and 
other stimulating liquors. By strictly observing this 
regimen, which he, in some measure, continued ever 
afterwards, he was enabled to prolong his life beyond 
the ordinary limits; presenting an example of the 
truth of his favourite maxim — ^that sobriety, temper- 
ance, and moderation, are the best and most powerful 
preservatives that nature has granted to mankind. 

On his arrival in the metropolis, he commenced 
the study of medicine, cultivating at the same time 
natural history; and it was his knowledge of this 
science which introduced him early to the acquaint- 
ance of Boyle and Ray. After studying four years in 
London with unremitting severity, he visited France 
for further improvement. At the end of 1684, he 
returned to London with the intention of settling in 
the metropolis as a physician, and was elected a 
Fellow of the Royal Society on the 21st of January 
following. In 1685 he presented some curiosities to 
the Society, and in July of the same year was a 


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1725 — 30.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 451 

candidate for the oflSce of Assistant Secretary, but 
without success, as he was obliged to give way to the 
superior interest of Halley. 

On the 12th April, 1687, he was chosen a Fellow 
of the College of Physicians, and on the 12th Sep 
tember following he embarked at Portsmouth for 
Jamaica, with the Duke of Albemarle, who had been 
appointed Governor of that island. 

In the pre&ce to his Natural History qf Jamaica, 
he says : 

" I had from my youth been very much pleased with 
the study of plants, and other parts of Natinre, and had 
seen most of those kinds of curiosities which were to 
be found in the fields or the gardens or cabinets of the 
curious. The accounts of these strange things which 
I met with in collections, and was informed were com- 
mon in the West Indies, were not so satisfactory as I 
desired. I was young, and could not be easy if I had 
not the pleasure to see what I had heard so much of 
I thought by that means the ideas of them would be 
better imprinted on my mind, and that, upon occasion, 
the knowledge of them and their uses might be after- 
wards more fiEimiliar to me. These inclinations remained 
with me some time after I settled myself to practice 
physic in London, and had had the honour to be ad- 
mitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians, as well as 
of the Royal Society. 

" His Grace the Duke of Albemarle having obtained 
the supreme command of the Island of Jamaica, and 
other parts of English America, when he should arrive, 
employed Dr. Barwick, his physician, to look out for 
one who could take care of him and his family in case 
of sickness. Dr. Barwick spake to me in this matter, 
enquiring if any physician of my acquaintance would 



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452 HISTORY OF [1725 SO. 

undertake it. This seemed to me to be such an oppor-* 
tunity, as I myself wanted to view the places and things 
I designed; wherefore, after due consideration, I re- 
solved to go, provided some preliminaries and conditions 
were agreed to, which were all granted.'^ 

Although, in consequence of the death of the 
Duke shortly after his arrival in Jamaica, Sloane's 
sojourn in that island did not exceed fifteen months, 
yet he managed to collect such a prodigious number 
of plants, that on his return to England, Ray was 
astonished that one man could procure in one island, 
and in so short a space of time, so vast a variety. 

The plants which he brought with him amounted 
to 800 species. Of these, he gave his friend Mr. 
Courten whatever he wanted to complete his collection, 
and the remainder, with other objects of natural his- 
tory and various curiosities, formed the nucleus of his 
Museum, upon which he spent a large sum of money, 
and enriched it by every means in his power. Dr. 
Franklin in one of his letters says, " I had brought over 
a few new curiosities, among which the principal was 
a purse made of the Asbestos^ which purifies by fire. 
Sir Hans Sloane heard of it, came to see me, and 
invited me to his house in Bloomsbury Square, shewed 
me all his curiosities, and persuaded me to add that 
to the number, for which he paid me handsomely"." 

In the introduction to the second volume of 
the Natural History of Jamaica, published in 1726, 
nearly twenty years subsequent to the first, Sloane 
states, as one reason for the delay, the length of time 
which " putting into order his curiosities, numbering 
them, and entering them," occupied ; and he gives the 

^ Works, Vol. r. p. 65. 


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1725 — ^30.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 453 

number of his collections in natural history, &c., com- 
prising 8226 specimens in botany alone, besides 200 
volumes of " dried samples of plants." 

His love for zoology is strikingly exhibited by the 
annexed extract from the work just quoted. 

" Though I foresaw the difficulties, yet I had an 
intention to try to bring with me from Jamaica some 
uncommon creatures alive, such as a large yellow snake 
seven foot long, a guano or great lizard, a crocodile, 
&c. I had the snake tamed by an Indian, whom it 
would follow as a dog would his master, and after it was 
deliver'd to me. I kept it in a large earthen jar, such 
as are for keeping the best water for the commanders 
of ships during their voyages, covering its mouth with 
two boards, and laying weights upon them. I had it 
fed every day upon the guts and garbage of fowl, 
&c. put into the jar from the kitchen. Thus it liv'd 
for some time, when, being weary of its confinement, it 
shoved asunder the two boards on the mouth of the 
jar, and got up to the top of a large house, wherein lay 
footmen and other domesticks of Her Grace the Duchess 
of Albemarle, who, being afraid to lie down in such 
company, shot my snake dead. It seem'd before this 
disaster to be very well pleased with its situation, being 
in a part of the house which was well filled with rats, 
which are the most pleasing food for these sort of ser- 
pents '^.^ 

Sloane now applied himself sedulously to his pro- 
fession. Success attended him in his practice, and 
he became so eminent, that he was appointed Physi- 
cian to Christ's Hospital in 1694; an office which he 

" Vol. II. p. 346. 


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454 HISTOBY OF [1725 — 30. 

held until his great age and infirmitiea compelled 
him to resign it in 1730. It is due to his memory to 
state, that during the whole of this period he never 
retained hb salary, but always devoted it to charitable 
purposes. In 1716, George L created Sloane a bare- 
net, an hereditary title of honour to which no English 
physician had before attained, and, at the same time, 
appointed him Physician-general to the army, which 
office he resigned in 1727, for the appointment of 
Physician in Ordinary to George II. In 1719, be was 
elected President of the College of Physicians, which 
he held for sixteen years, and in 1727, he attained 
the highest object of his ambition, having the honour 
to succeed Newton in the chair of the Royal Society. 
His competitor on this occasion was Martin Folkes. 
He continued to exercise all his official duties with 
the greatest zeal, until he agived at the age of four^ 
score, when he formed the resolution of quitting the 
service of the public, and of living in tranquillity. 
With this view, he resigned the presidency of the 
Royal Society, and retired to Chelsea^ where he had 
purchased an estate. There he enjoyed in peaceful 
repose the remains of a well-spent life, still continuing 
to receive, as he had done in London, the visits of 
scientific men, of learned foreigners, and of the Royal 
family ; and, what is still more to his praise, he never 
refused admittance nor advice to rich or poor,, who 
came to consult him concerning their health. 

Edwards, in his Gleanings of Natural History^ 
has given an interesting sketch of this period of 
Sloane's life : — 

*' Sir Hans Sloane, in the decline of his life, left 
London and retired to his manor-house at Chelsea, 
where he resided about fourteen years before he died. 


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1725 — SO.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 455 

After his retirement to Chelsea he requested it as a 
favour to him (though I embraced his request as an 
honour done to myself), that I would visit him every 
week, in order to divert him for an hour or two, with 
the common news of the town, and with any thing par- 
ticular that should happen amongst his acquaintance of 
the Boyal Society, and other ingenious gentlemen, many 
of whom I was weekly conversant with ; and I seldom 
missed drinking coffee with him on a Saturday during 
the whole time of his retirement at Chelsea. He was 
so infirm as to be wholly confined to his house, except 
sometimes, though rarely, taking a little air in his 
garden, in a wheeled chair ; and this confinement made 
him very anxious to see any of his old acquaintance, to 
amuse him. He was always strictly careful that I 
should be at no expense in my journeys from London 
to Chelsea to wait on him, knowing that I did not 
superabound in the gifts of fortune : he would calculate 
what the expense of coach-hire, waterage, or any other 
little charge that might attend on my journeys back- 
ward and forward, would amount to, and obliged me 
annually to accept of it, though I would willingly have 
dedined it/* 

Sir Hans Sloane enjoyed the high honour of being 
one of the foreign members" of the French Academy, 
by which body he was greatly esteemed. In the iloge 
pronounced at his death, it is stated that, " il etoit de 
presqvs toutes les Academies de VEurope, et en liaison 
avec toutes les personnes distingu6es par leur savoir^ 
leur naissance, ou leur gSnie. M. le Due de Bourbon 
thonora de sa correspondance ; et pour reconnoitre 

^* The vacancy caused by his death was filled by Stephen 
Hales, F.B.S. 


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456 HISTORY OF [1725 — SO. 

les prisens qu'il en awit repds, ce Prince lui envoya 
son portrait dans une magnijiqaz botte (Tor et une 
mSdaille oU S.A.S. Stoit representee; le Roi mime a 
daigne lui envoyer en present le rectieil des gravures 
de son cahineU don qui ne se fait ordinairement 
quaux personnes les plus distinguSes^ et qui prouve 
d la fois et la grande reputation du Philosophe An- 
glois, et le cas que le Monarqns Francois salt /aire 
du merite^^"" 

Sir Hans Sloane died on the 11th of January, 
1753, after a short illness. He bequeathed his Mu- 
seum to the public, on condition that 20,000Z. should 
be paid to his family ; a sum which is said to have 
scarcely exceeded the intrinsic value of the gold and 
silver medals, and the ores and precious stones in his 
collection ; for, in his will, he declares that the first 
cost of the whole amounted at least to 50,000/. His 
library, consisting of 8566 manuscripts and 50,000 
volumes, was included in this bequest. Parliament 
accepted the trust on the required conditions, and 
thus Sloane's collections formed the nucleus of the 
British Museum *^ 

There are twenty-four Papers by Sir Hans in the 
Philosophical Transactions. He also published seve- 
ral works, the most important of which is his Natural 
History qf Jamaica. 

He presented to the Society a portrait of himself, 
painted by Sir G. Kneller. 

One of the first acts of Sir Hans Sloane, was to 
propose to the Council that an address should be pre- 

1* Hist, de FAcad., 1753, p. 319. 

^^ Sloane's collection was greatly increased by the bequest, in 
1702, of the museum of his friend Mr. Courten. 


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1725 30.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 457 

sented to George II., praying his Majesty to become 
the Patron of the Society, and, at the same time, that 
he would inscribe his name in the Charter-book'^. 

After several lengthy discussions, an Address in 
these terms was agreed to : — 

'' To the King's Most ExceUerU Majesty. 
** The humble Address of the President, Council, and 
Fellows of the Royal Society of London for im- 
proving Natural Knowledge. 

"Most Gracious Sovereign, 

" We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal 
subjects, the President, Council, and Fellows, of your 
Koyal Society of London for improving Natural Know* 
ledge, though deeply aflPected with the loss of your 
Boyal Father, our late most gracious King and Patron, 
yet cannot but take part in the universal joy upon your 
Majesty's happy and peaceable accession to the Crown. 

" We cheerfully join in the wishes, the hopes, and 
imited prayers, of all your people, that your reign may 
be long and glorious, and that every blessing may be 
shower'd down upon your sacred person, your august 
Consort, and flourishing Royal Family, which the most 

^^ At the ordinary Meeting on the 27th April, the President 
*^ acquainted the Society that there had heen a design and reso« 
lution taken ahout ten years ago, to endeavour to ohtain the favour 
of his Majesty, to dignify the Society, as some of his royal prede- 
cessors had done, with the grant of his name under the title of 
Patron ; and that, accordingly, a leaf in the Charter-hook had been 
prepared with the Arms for that purpose; yet no further steps 
having been taken therein, the said design proved of no effect. And 
whereas, he having some reason to believe that an application of 
this nature, at this time, might not be unsuccessful, he proposed 
that the said former resolution should now be resumed, which was 
agreed to.* Journal-book, Vol. xiv. p. 76. 


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458 HISTORY OF [1725 — SO. 

affectionate subjects have ever ask'd of Heaven for the 
best and most belov'd of Princes. 

'* Your Majesty's known love to science and usefull 
arts, gives us reason to hope that it will be one of the 
glories of your reign to give encouragement to learn^ 
ing, as has been done by the greatest Princes in all 
ages, and particularly emboldens us to request that you 
will graciously vouchsafe us the honour, granted us by 
your Royal Father, of declaring yourself our Protector 
and our Patron. 

" This mark of your Royal goodness will animate 
and encourage us to pursue, with redoubled zeal and 
application, the noble design of oiur Royal Founder for 
improving those arts and sciences that tend to the 
general good of mankind, and the particular service of 
our native country." 

A deputation, consisting of the Duke of Richmond, 
Sir Hans Sloane, and other Members of Council, pre- 
sentecl the above Address, and it is recorded in the 
Journal-book, that " His Majesty was pleased to re- 
ceive the gentlemen in a most gracious manner, and 
did the Society the honour to write his Royal name 
in the Statute-book as their Patron"; and that upon 
waiting on the Queen with a compliment, her Majesty 
had likewise been pleased to receive them very gra- 

In the early part of 1728, Sir Hans Sloane brought 
forward several propositions involving considerable 
changes in the constitution of the Society. The most 
important of these were : — 1. To exempt the foreign 
Members from paying subscriptions. 2. To sue Fel- 

^^ His Majesty's signature, in a large bold hand, is inscribed 
on an ornamented page with the autographs of other Sovereigns. 


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1725 — SO.Jl THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 469 

lows in arrear of their payments. 3. To make it 
compulsory for every candidate to be approved by 
the Council, and recommended by three Fellows, one 
of whom, at Ieast» was to be a member of Council^ 
before the candidate could be put to the ballot. 

The last of these propositions was passed into a 
Statute, and acted on from 1728, to 1730; all the 
candidates being approved by the Council before 
being put to the ballot. In the latter year, the expe- 
diency of limiting the number of Fellows was taken 
into consideration ; but before making any statute on 
this subject, a case was drawn up for the opinion of 
the Attorney-General, embodying these queries: — 
"Whether it is any infringement of the rights and 
privileges of the Fellows, that a candidate should be 
approved by the Council before being ballotted for by 
the Fellows generally ; considering that the rejection 
of a candidate by the Council does not disqualify him 
from being put up again?" and secondly, "Whether 
the Council cannot, by virtue of their general power 
of regulating the body, linut the number of the Mem- 
bers thereof; or at least make such laws as may 
check the too great increase of the body with new 
Members unfit for answering the end of the Institu- 

The opinion of the Attorney-General on the first 
query was> that " The Charter having joined the Presi- 
dent, Council, and Fellows together, in the elections 
of Fellows, as Members of the entire body, and having 
directed such elections to be made by a major part 
of them all, without giving any preference in those 
acts to the Council, I think the Council should not 
make a Statute whereby to assume a negative to 
themselves, which seems to me to be the efiect of this 


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460 HISTORY OF [1725 — SO. 

Statute. Therefore I apprehend this Statute not to 
be warranted by the Charter." 

The opinion on the second query was : " Consider- 
ing that the Charter hath left the body at large with* 
out limiting the number of Fellows, and considering 
also the nature of this foundation, I think the Coun- 
cil cannot make a Statute to limit the Fellows to a 
certain number. But they may make reasonable 
statutes, or bye-laws, to describe and ascertain proper 
qualifications of persons to be elected Fellows, in such 
manner as may best answer and promote the ends 
of an Institution so useful to the learned world." 

This opinion, emanating firom so profound a law* 
yer as the Attorney-General*', had the effect of caus- 
ing the Statute, requiring candidates to be approved 
by the Council, to be repealed, and the following to 
be substituted: — 

" Every person to be elected Fellow of the Boyal 
Society, shall be propounded and recommended at a 
Meeting of the Society, by three or more Members*®, 
who shall then deliver to one of the Secretaries a paper 
signed by themselves, signifying the name, addition, pro- 
fession, occupation, and chief qualifications of the Can- 
didate for election, as also notifying the usual place 
of his habitation; a fair copy of which paper, with the 
date of the day when delivered, shall be fixed up in the 
Meeting Boom of the Society at Ten several Ordinary 

^* Afterwards the celebrated Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. 

^ It appears that Candidates were also expected to send in a 
Paper on the branch of science to which they were attached. In 
answer to a letter from a Candidate desiring to know the regula- 
tions, the Secretary says : " To be made a Member, you must be 
recommended by three Members, and send in specimens to show in 
what part of philosophy you are particularly convenant." 


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1730 — 35.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 461 

Meetings, before the said Candidate shall be put to the 

" Saving and excepting that it shall be free for 
every one of his Majesty's subjects who is a Peer, or 
the son of a Peer, of Great Britain or Ireland, and for 
every one of His Majesty's Privy Council of either of 
the said Kingdoms, and for every Foreign Prince or 
Ambassador, to be propounded by any single person, and 
to be put to the ballot for election on the same day . 
there being present a competent number for making 

This Statute was passed into a law on the 10th 
December, 1730, and on the 25th February, 1730—1, 
the first * paper' or certificate in favour of a candi- 
date was presented, since which period this mode of 
introducing candidates for election has been steadily 
maintained. It is important to state, that all certifi- 
cates are carefully preserved in chronological order, 
whether the candidates have been elected or not; 
they form several folio volumes, and, as they gene- 
rally give an account of the scientific and literary 
attainments of the candidates^ are highly valuable 

Previously to the introduction of this custom, 
diplomas were sometimes given to the Fellows on 
their election. The Archives of the Society are silent 
on this subject, but the annexed copy of one, placed 
in my hands by Captain Smyth, is an unquestionable 
testimony that the practice existed. 

The document is written on parchment, headed 
by the Arms of the Society appropriately emblazoned, 
and has appended to it an impression in wax of the 
Society's large seal : — 

'* Prseses, Concilium, et Sodales Regalis Societatis 


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462 HISTORY OP [1730 — 35 

Londini, pro Scientia Naturali froimoKbmia imtiiuim amnilui 
ad quos Prcesentes LUercp pervenerint, SahUem. Sciatis vimm 
erwUtemy Johannem Thorpe, Medicinof Dodarem^ Oxon. in 
ComiHia Soletmiius Begalu BodetatU prwdietw triffmmo DU 
Natembris, Anno 2>"' MiUerimo Septingenmo-qiiifa^ Londini, 
habitia in Begalmn Sodetatem Londini prcedictam ^eefum, 
receptum, et admiuwn fuisae^ omnibus^te Jwribw $t PritihyiiSt 
qua ad sodahm didw Bepalis Sodetaiis utennqus pmtiMnt 
audum atque donatum. In cujus rei testimonium, PrcBsmiUs 
Literas SigiUo nostro communi muniri fedmut. Datum in 
Concilia Regalia Sooidatis Londini, nono die Novembrii, Anno 
MiUesimo Septingenterimo Deoimo Tertio. 

" Isaac Newton, P.R.S/' 

The Attorney-General having given an opinion 
that Fellows in arrear with their subscriptions, who 
had signed the obligation, might be legally proceeded 
against for the recovery of their arrears, immediate 
steps were taken to apprise defaulters of the inten- 
tion of Council to enforce payment of their subscrip- 
tions, which had the effect of causing several Fellows 
to liquidate their debts to the Society, whilst others 
compounded for their past and future subscriptions 
by the payment of one sum. At the same time it 
was resolved that foreign Members, who had hitherto 
been classed with ordinary Members, as far as paying 
subscriptions, should be in fiiture exempted from 
these payments". 

The augmentation of funds, arising from these 
energetic measures, led the Council to seek for a more 
profitable investment for their capital than that af- 
forded by Government securities; and after various 

21 At this period there were 7^ Foreign Members upon the 
Books of the Society. 


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17S0 — 35.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 463 

propositions, it was resolved to purchase a small 
estate at Acton, in Middlesex, a village at that period 
wholly in the country, although, from the rapid in- 
crease of buildings, now almost linked to Bayswater. 
This estate consisted originally of 48 acres, but in con- 
sequence of some portion of the land having been sold, 
is now reduced to 33 acres. Should our gigantic 
metropolis continue to increase, as it has done of late 
years, this small property will become, ere long, of 
considerable value for building ground, as the greater 
part of it adjoins the high road leading to London. 
This purchase was effected in 1732*". 

This era of the history of the Society would be 
imperfect, were we to omit noticing the spirited 
measures taken by several distinguished Members, to 
promote the practice of Inoculation. Sir Hans Sloane, 
Dr. Jurin (whose name has been mentioned in con- 
nexion with this subject). Dr. Williams, Mr. Wright, 
and Mr. Gale, published several Papers in the Philo^ 
sophical Transactions^ urging the importance of 
inoculation. The first account of this practice appears 
in the Transactions for 1714, in two Papers by E. 
Timoni, a physician, at that time practising at Con- 
stantinople, and J. Pylarini, a native of Cephalonia^ 

^ The following is a copy of the Rent-roll of the Society's 
Estates at this period : — 

*'*' A Fee-farm Rent at Lewes in Sussex, £. s. d, 

producing 24 per an. 

An Estate at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire 27 „ 
A small house in Crane Court, purchased 

with the Society's house 24 „ 

Two houses in Coleman Street 97 10 „ 

An Estate at Acton 65 „ 

237 10 or 


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4G4 HISTORY OF [l7S0 — 35. 

tvho practised medicine in various parts of the East* 
** Inoculation," says Dr. Thomson, " began to be prac- 
tised in London soon after the publication of these 
Papers". But it made its way exceedingly slowly, in 
consequence of the violent prejudices which it had to 
combat^. In the year 1722 Dr. Nettleton began to 
try it at Halifax, in Yorkshire, and he published a 
detailof his proceedings in the Philosophical Trans- 
actions. The whole number inoculated in England 
by the year 1722, amounted, according to Dr. Jurin, 
to 182. Of these two died. Dr. Jurin, in an admir* 
able Paper which he published on Inoculation, demon- 
strated that, in the small-pox taken the natural way, 
the deaths amounted to rather more than one in four- 
teen. Thus the superiority of inoculation became 
conspicuous at the very outset. For, even by the ene- 
mies of that method, the deaths were only estimated 
at one in ninety-one. They are, in fact, somewhat 
lower than that ratio ^." Dr. Thomson then proceeds 
to state, that Sir Hans Sloane interested himself 
greatly in the subject, and was the means of causing 
Dr. Pylarini s Paper to be inserted in the TransoA^-^ 
lions. " This notice," he adds, " lay dormant till Mr. 
Wortley Montague, then ambassador at Constanti- 
nople, and Lady Mary his wife, inoculated their son, 
and brought him in safety to England. Upon this 
Queen Caroline, at that time Princess of Wales, 
begged the lives of six condemned criminals, who 

^ It had been practiaed in Wales long before the method was 
made known from Constantinople. The Welch called it buying 
the small-pox. 

** It appears, from several letters in the Archives of the So- 
ciety, that the clergy were strenuously opposed to the practice. 

^ Hittory Royal Society, p. 171. 


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1725 — SO.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 466 

had never had the small-pox. They were inoculated, 
and all took the disease, except one woman. To make 
further trial. Queen Caroline procured half a dozen 
of the charity children belonging to St. James's 
parish, who were inoculated ; and all of them, except 
one (who had had the disease before, but concealed it 
for the sake of the reward), went through it with the 
symptoms of a &yourable kind of the distemper. 
Queen Caroline afterwards consulted Sir Hans Sloane 
about inoculating her own family. Sir Hans approved 
of the process, but refused to advise her Majesty to 
put it in practice in her own family, as not being cer- 
tain of the consequences that might follow, and on 
account of the great importance of the persons experi- 
mented on to the public. This opinion, however, deter- 
mined both Queen Caroline and King George I. The 
operation was performed, and the children went 
through the disease favourably. Sir Hans Sloane 
adds, that out of 200 cases of inoculation that he had 
seen, only one terminated fatally*." 

The interest now attaching to this account of 
inoculation is simply of an historical nature^, as the 
introduction of vaccination has very properly caused 
the former practice to be abandoned. 

On the 25th November, 1731, the Society were 
honoured by a visit from the Prince of Wales, and 
the Duke of Lorraine, when the latter was admitted 
a Fellow of the Society, and signed his name in the 
Charter-book. Various experiments were made on 
this occasion : — 

^ History Royal Society, p. 172. 

^ There are two large MS. folios in the library of the Society, 
entirely filled wth the statistics of Inoculation. 



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466 HISTORY OF [1730 — S5. 

" On the strength of Lord Paisley *s Loadstone, for- 
merly presented to the Society. 

'' On Dr. Frobenius's Phlogiston, and on the trans- 
mutation of phosphorus*^. 

"Electrical experiments by Mr. Gray, which sue* 
ceeded, notwithstanding the largeness of the company." 

Those last mentioned consisted in showing the 
facility with which electricity passes through great 
lengths of conductors, and are remarkable as having 
been the first of this nature. They were repeated in 
1745, when Dr., afterwards Sir William Watson, 
assisted by several scientific Members of the Society, 
made a series of experiments to ascertain how far 
electricity could be conveyed by means of conductors. 
" They caused the shock to pass across the Thames at 
Westminster bridge, the circuit being completed by 
making use of the river for one part of the chain of 
communication. One end of the wire communicated 
with the coating of a charged phial, the other being 
held by an observer, who in his other hand held an 
iron rod, which he dipped into the river. On the 
opposite side of the river stood a gentleman, who 
likewise dipped an iron rod in the river with one 
hand, and in the other held a wire, the extremity of 
^hich might be brought into contact with the wire 
of the phial. Upon making the discharge, the shock 
was felt instantaneously by both the observers*.** 
Subsequently, the same parties made experiments 

^ Dr. Frobenius was accustomed to make chemical experiments 
before the Society, for which he was remunerated. It is worth 
noticing, that the phosphorus used in the above experiments, amount- 
ing to six ounces, cost 10/. lOt. 

2» Priestley's History of Electricity. 


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3730 — 35.] THE ROYAL SCJCIETY. 46? 

near Shooter's Hill, when the wires formed a circuit 
of four miles, and conveyed the shock with equal 
facility, "a distance which without trial," they ob- 
served, "was too great to be credited*^." In the 
Paper detailing these experiments, printed in the 45th 
volume of the Philosophical Transactions, occurs the 
first mention of Dr. Franklin's name, and of his theory 
of positive and negative electricity. At the present 
day, when the astonishing properties of electricity 
are so prominently displayed in the electric tele- 
graph'', this Paper possesses peculiar interest. The 
science of electricity, as must be generally known, 
originated after the establishment of the Royal Society; 
almost every early electrical discovery of importance 
was made by its Members,* and is to be found re- 
corded in the Philosophical Transactions^. 

^ Thede experiments were perfonned at the expense of the 
Society, and cost 10/. 5«. 6tf. 

^^ See a very remarkable paper in the Spectator upon this sub- 
ject, (No. 261) taken from Strada. 

^ It is worthy of mention, that a Mathematical Society, which 
also cultivated the science of Electricity, was established in 171 7) 
by Joseph Middleton: they met at the Monmouth's Head, in 
Monmouth Street, until 1725, when they removed to the White- 
Horse Tavern, in Wheeler Street, and from thence, in 1735, to 
Ben Jonson's Head, in Pelham Street, Spitalfields: they after- 
wards occupied large apartments in Crispin Street, Spitalfields. The 
Members of this Society appear to have consisted principally of 
tradesmen and artisans, vdth the exception of a few persons of 
higher rank, amongst whom may be mentioned. Canton, Dollond, 
Thomas Simpson, and Crossley. The Society, according to their 
Minute-books, to which Mr. Williams, the Assistant- Secretary to 
the Astronomical Society, kindly gave me access, possessed a con- 
siderable number of philosophical instruments with which they 
perfonned various experiments. It ¥ras customary to lend these; for 
we find amongst the Rules, that, — '^ the air-pumps, reflecting tele^ 

n H 2 scopes 


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468 HISTORY OF [1730 — 35. 

During this period, the Journal-books show that 
an extraordinary amount of sdentifie buaness was 
transacted at the ordinary Meetings, which were, 
with few exceptions^ predded over by Sir Hans 
Sloane**. Independently of papers read, experiments 

scopes, reflecting microscopes, electrical machines, soryejing instm* 
ments, &c. shall not he lent out without a hook of the use of either, 
and horroweiB shall give a note of hand for the yalne thereof." The 
first article of the Roles informs us, that ^' the number of Members 
which compose this Society shall not exceed the square of seven, 
except such Members as are abroad or in the countiy .* 

But it having been found that there were several candidates 
for admission, a new rule was subsequently enacted, increasing the 
number of Members to the square of eight, and more lately to the 
square of nine. The Members, met weekly on Saturday evenings, 
^ between eight and nine o'clock, silence being kept in the room.** 
The Articles add, that *^ every Member present shall employ him- 
self in some mathematical exerdse, or forfeit one penny; and if 
any Member is ask'd by another a question in the mathematics, he 
shall instruct him in the plainest and easiest method he can, or 
forfeit two-pence on refusal." 

These rules will be understood as applying only to the early 
period of the Society's existence. 

This association long contributed to keep up a taste for exact 
science among the residents in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, 
and accumulated a library of nearly 3,000 volumes. It existed 
until May 1845, when being on the point of dissolution, a propo- 
sition was made by the few remaining Members to present their 
library to the Astronomical Society, which terminated by the 
^' books, records, and memorials of the Mathematical Society being 
made over to the Astronomical Society ; and electing the remaining 
Members of the Mathematical Society Fellows of the latter body. 
There were nineteen in number, three of whom were already Fel- 
lows of the Astronomical Society." ProceedingM Royal Astronomical 
Society^ 1846. It is due to Captain Smyth (who was a Member of 
the Mathematical Society) to state, that he negociated this amalga- 

^ It should not be forgotten, that the greatest astronomical dis- 
covery of the eighteenth century was made during the Presidency of 


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1730 — 35.} THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 469 

of various kinds were made, several of which created 
great interest. Amongst them may be mentioned 
those on ether, which spirit had been noticed as early 
as 1540 by pharmaceutical chemists. Dr. Frobenius 
and Mr. Godfrey made several experiments on it be- 
fore the Society, an account of which appears in two 
Papers published in the Philosophical Transactions 
for 1730, when the term ether was first adopted. At 
the present time, when the properties of this anaesthetic 
agent have been made so serviceable to suffering 
- humanity, these Papers possess considerable historical 
value. Mr. Godfrey states : "That this liquor ^Ethe- 
reus was formerly very much esteemed and enquired 
into, doth clearly appear by an experiment I made 
formerly for my worthy Master Esquire Boyle, by the 
means of a metallick solution, namely, by the solution 
of crude mercury united with the Phlogiston Vini^ 
or other vegetables, and this sether swam on the top 
of the solution, which I separated per Tritorium. 
This is what I have done formerly in Esquire Boyle's 
' laboratory, and Sir Isaac Newton was very well ac- 
quainted with it too, which by reason of shortness of 
life was not brought to a full end, to do it so readily 
in quantity." 

Dr. Frobenius, after describing various experiments, 
says : ** iEther then is certainly the most noble, effica- 

Sir Hans Sloane. I allade to the aberration of light, discovered by 
Bradley, and communicated to the Royal Society in an elaborate 
Paper published in the 35th volume of the Transactiam. ^ Hia 
theory was so sound that no astronomer ever contested it, and 
his observations were so accurate, that the quantity which he 
assigned as the greatest amount of the change (one ninetieth of 
a degree), has hardly been corrected by more recent astronomers." 
WheweU 8 Hitt. Ind. iSci. 


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470 HISTORY OF [1730 — 35. 

cious, and useful instrument in all Chymistry and 
Pharmacy; Ubi enim ignis poientialis, ibi actucUi 
non opus esU inasmuch as essences and essential oils 
are extracted by it immediately, without so much as 
the mediation of fire, from woods, barks, roots, herbs* 
flowers, berries, seeds, &c., from animals and their 
parts too." 

In accordance with the orders of Cfovernment, 
new inventions were exhibited before the Society; 
and registered, previously to being secured to their 
author by Letters Patent**. Nor was science alone 
considered, for at many of the Meetings objects of 
archaeological interest were exhibited and discussed, 
representations and descriptions of which frequently 
occur in the Philosophical Transactions. 

A Literary and Archaeological Society, established 
at Peterborough in 1730, appears to have contributed 
some articles of this nature. Le Neve, in a letter to 
Dr. Mortimer, dated April 1, 1735, says : "I suppose 
Dr. Balguyinform'd you of the nature of our Institution, 
for the promoting literature and friendship among us. 
We began six or seven years ago, are seldom less than 
seven or eight, or more than twelve or fourteen at a 
Meeting. We live in the midst of Gothick ruins, and 
have very many stately monuments of antiquity left 
entire. On one side of us we are near to one of the 
greatest Roman stations in Britain, where many tes- 
selated pavements, altars, &c. are often found amongst 
the ruins, and where the farmer, every time he ploughs 
the fields, expects a plentiful harvest of medals, which 

^ It is really curious to observe how many of these inventions 
are similar in principle to the so-called novelties of the present 
day. An interesting list might easily be made from a few volumes 
of the Journal-book. 


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1730 — 35.^ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 471 

after a shower of rain, when the earth is lightened by 
the plough, have been found in great numbers. We 
have a small museum, which we have furnished with 
natural curiosities, as flies, insects, shells, petrefac^ 
tions, minerals, &c. We have also begun a small col- 
lection of medals, of which we have betwixt three or 
four hundred. We amuse ourselves for two or three 
hours once every week in these things'*." 

Highly valuable collections in zoology, mineralogy, 
and botany, from America, were presented to the 
Society for their Museum in 1734, by John Winthrop, 
{llollisian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, in 
New England!} and at the same time he communi- 
cated important geographical information respecting 
his country'^. Considerable impulse was given to the 
study of botany by the receipt, in the early part of 
each year, of fifty specimens of dried plants from the 
Apothecaries' Garden at Chelsea, with a scientific 
description of each plant, in conformity with the 
directions of Sir Hans Sloane, who, on purchasing 
the manor of Chelsea, gave the Company of Apothe- 
caries the entire freehold of their botanical garden 
there, on condition that it should be for ever pre- 

^ Archives : Royal Society. 

^ La Martiniero, Geographer to the King of $pain> dedicated a 
Tolome of his (geographical Dictionary to the Society at this period. 
In a letter to Sir Hans Sloane, preserved in the Archives of the So- 
ciety, he says : ^'I intend to satisfy my own inclination hy dedicating 
my new volume to the Royal Society. Sir, I know the rank you 
hold, not only among that learned Society, but also in the republic of 
letters. Give me leave to ask your protection for myself and for 
my book too. All my thoughts are bent on rendering my life and 
««rork8 more and more worthy of the approbation of persons of 
honour and truly learned." 

Di(jiti?ed by, 


472 HISTORY OF 1X735 40. 

served as a physic garden. As a proof of its being 
so maintained, he obliged the Company, in con- 
sideration of the sadd grant, to present yearly to 
the Royal Society, in one of their weekly Meetings, 
fifty specimens of plants that had been grown in the 
garden during the preceding year, and which were 
all to be specifically distinct from each other, until 
the number of two thousand should be presented. 
This number was completed in 1761*^. The inspec- 
tion and study of these plants by the Fellows is fre- 
quently alluded to in the Journal-books, and probably 
not a little assisted in developing that branch of 
botany comprising the anatomy and physiology of 
plants, which originated in this country, and indeed 
took its rise from the Royal Society. 

It is not surprising that with so many attractions, 
the Meetings of the Society were most fully attended 
not only by the Fellows, but their friends, who were 
formally introduced, and their names inserted in the 
Minutes'®. Under all these apparently favourable 
circumstances, we are hardly prepared to find that 
the financial affairs of the Society became again 
involved in so unhappy a condition, as to render it 
necessary to appoint a Committee to examine the 
books, and more particularly to devise some better 
means of recovering the arrears due from dishonour- 
able Members, than those hitherto employed. 

A Committee with these objects in view, sat during 

^ In 1733, tbe company erected a marble statae of Sir Hans, 
executed hy Rysbrac, in tbe centre of tbe garden, with a Latin 
inscription, commemorating the design and advantages of bis dona* 

^ The name of tbe Prince of Orange appears amongst the num« 
ber of distinguished visitors. 


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37S5 — 40.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 473 

the early part of the year 1740, and drew up an 
elaborate Report, which was presented to the Council 
on the 14th January, by which it appears that the 
total number of Fellows amounted to 293^, composed 
of 152 who had compounded for their subscriptions, 
2 exempted from payments^, and 139 who had signed 
the obligation to pay annually, but from whom no 
less a sum than 1844/. 16^.^^ was due as arrears! 
The Conmiittee conclude their report by saying, " that 
the whole revenue of the Society, exclusive of the 
article of contributions, amounts only to the sum of 
232/. per annum, decreased by taxes and other ex- 
pences to 140/. per annum, whereas it appears that 
the annual expenses can hardly be computed at less 
than 380/. yearly, so that the expenses must exceed 
the receipts by about 240/. annually, unless such a 
sum is brought in yearly by contributions, on which 
account they are humbly of opinion that the getting 
in of the contributions is, at this time, a matter of the 
greatest consequence to the Society, and of absolute 
necessity, as the business of the Society cannot pos- 
sibly be carried on without." 

It would be wearisome to detail the great exer- 
tions made by the Council to disengage the Society 
from its difficulties, which had assimied the unpleasant 
reality of a heavy and increasing debt. Eventually, 
however, they succeeded in their arduous undertaking, 
and restored the Society to a state of prosperity ; the 
receipts in the following year (1741) exceeded the 
payments by 297/. 

3* Thirty-four of these were noblemen. 
^ Dr. James Douglas, and William Cheselden, Esq. 
*^ This does not include a considerable sum due from the estates 
of deceased Fellows. 


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474 HISTOBY OF [1740 — 45. 

It is a painful task, though one of absolute duty, 
to record these periodical visitations of poverty, which 
threatened the very existence of the Royal Society ; 
there is, however, a proportionate amount of pleasure 
in witnessing the triumphant manner in which the 
small band of philosophers, to whom the guardianship 
of a body already known and honoured throughout 
Europe was committed, extricated their institution 
from serious difficulties, unassisted by Royal bounty, 
and labouring alone on account of their love for 

But it may be permitted us to express our sur- 
prise, that a scientific Society should ever meet with 
such difficulties as have been recorded, arising from 
want of honour amongst its Members. Happily this 
observation relates wholly to past years, for, in the 
present day, it is a most rare event for any Fellow 
of the Royal Society to be behind with his subscrip- 
tion**. But it is a well-known feet, that other scien- 
tific bodies suffer sadly from the defalcations of their 
members**, who allow their names to remain on the 
books, and in many cases avail themselves of the 
privileges of the institution, without at all contributing 
to its support. Such a course entails formidable diffi- 
culties on the executive of the Society. Naturally 
trusting to the honour of the Members, who under- 
take to comply with the statutory regulations, cer- 
tain measures are taken and expenses incurred which 

^ And this, be it remembered, without the intervention of a 
collector, for such an officer does not exist at the Royal Society. 

^ The Society of Antiquaries presents a strong instance^ 2,700/. 
paving been lately lost to the funds of the institution, from Memben 
of that body. 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROTAL SOCIETY. 475 

can only be defrayed by the current annual sub* 
scriptions, hence it follows, as a matter of course, 
that should these fail, the legitimate objects of the 
Society cannot be carried out. 

There are indispensable obligations on all who 
associate themselves with any scientific Society. Those 
who do not comply with them incur disgrace in- 
stead of honour, for a title can only be regarded as 
a reproach by those who fail to deserve it ; nor can 
they claim a share in the reputation of a Society, 
who never in any manner contribute to its advance- 

It is indeed startling, to hear periodically of the 
large amounts due in the form of arrears from mem- 
bers of various Societies, the non-payment of which 
must necessarily occasion the most crippling and 
disastrous effects. 

At the latter end of 1741, the declining health of 
Sir Hans Sloane compelled him unwillingly to resign 
the office of President. On the 16th November, 1741, 
Martin Folkes, Esq., V.P., stated at a Meeting of 
Council, that '' he was charged with a message from 
the President^ who desired him to bear his respects 
to them, and to acquaint them that the weakness in 
his limbs, which has now so long continued, and the 
precarious state, of his health, he finds will render 
it impracticable for him to give that attendance on 
the Society which his office requires, and therefore he 
desires them to think of some other proper person for 
that office in the ensuing election." 

The Council were extremely desirous to prevail 
upon Sir Hans Sloane to retain office, and appointed 
a deputation to wait on him, in order to convey their 


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476 HISTORY OF [1740 45. 

sentimentSy and to *' devise some measures to reconcile^ 
if possible, his holding the office, without injury to his 
health ;" but he was so fully impressed with the pro- 
priety of connecting the performance of the Presiden- 
tial duties with that high office, that being really 
unable to undertake these, he firmly requested to be 
allowed to retire, and sent the annexed communi- 
cation to Martin Folkes, which was read to the 

" Sir Hans Sloane is very sensible of the many benefits 
he has received by being for a great many years present 
at the Meetings of so many knowing and learned per- 
sons of the Society, and of the honours conferred upon 
him by the several offices with which he has been in- 
trusted by them. 

" He is very sorry that the bad state of his health 
will not longer permit him to ei\joy the advantage and 
satisfaction of so constantly attending their Meetings : 
but he will endeavour to do the Society all the services 
in his power, by communicating, from time to time, any 
curious notices which he shall receive, either at home 
or from abroad, concerning natural knowledge, during 
the small remainder of his life." 

The Society " Resolved, that their thanks should 
be given to Sir Hans Sloane for his many and great 
favours done to the Society during his continuance in 
the chair, and for his constant and diligent attend- 
ance at their Meetings, notwithstanding the great 
business he was otherwise engaged in;" and they 
ordered "Martin Folkes, Esq., Vice-President, Dr. 
Mead, James West, Esq., Treasurer, and Mr. Machin 
and Dr. Mortimer, the Secretaries, to wait on Sir 


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1740 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 477 

Hans Sloane with the foregoing resolution, and to 
assure him the Society still hope he will attend their 
Meetings when his health shall permit, though he 
declines being again elected President ; as also that 
they promise themselves the advantage of his friend- 
ship and assistance on all occasions, with the benefit 
of the advices he daily receives in his extensive and 
learned correspondence." It is almost needless to 
add, that although Sir Hans ceased to hold office, 
his interest in the Royal Society continued unabated 
to the end of his life. The Journal-books contain a 
great number of communications made by him to the 
Society, which were read at the ordinary Meetings, 
and which are remarkable for their value and ori- 
ginality. Indeed, he appears to have regarded the 
Society with an interest extinguished only by death, 
and on the other hand, the Society were fully im- 
pressed with the advantages which they derived from 
their connexion with so eminent a man^. 

The Society had now to select a President, and 
their choice fell on Martin Folkes, who was elected 

** "The sense entertaiDed by the Society of bis services and 
virtues, was evinced by the manner in which they resented an insnlt 
ofiered to him by Dr. Woodward, who (as the reader is aware) 
was expelled the Comioil. Sir Hans was reading a paper of his 
own composition, when Woodward made some grossly insulting 
remarks. Dr. Sloane complained, and moreover stated, that Dr. 
Woodward had often affronted him by making grimaces at him ; 
upon which Dr. Arbuthnot rose, and begged to be " informed what 
distortion of a man's face constituted a grimace V Sir Isaac Newton 
was in the chair when the question of expulsion was agitated ; 
and when it was pleaded in Woodward's favour, that "he was 
a good natural philosopher. Sir Isaac remarked, that in order to 
belong to that Society a man ought to be a good moral philo- 
sopher, as well as a natural one." Wadd's Menwtn^ p. 232. 


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At the Anniversary, held, as usual, on St. Andrew's 
day.* He had long been a Vice-President, and when 
Sir Hans Sloane was unable, on account of his infirmi- 
ties to attend, had presided in his place. 

Solar Dial made by Newton. 


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Memoir of Martin Folkes — His Acquirements more Literary than 
Scientific — Sir John Hill's Review of the Royal Society — 
Death of Halley — Formation of Royal Society Cluh — Ori- 
ginally entitled ' Club of Royal Philosophers' — ^Their Rules — 
Receiye presents of Venison, &c. — Cost of Dining — ^Present 
Rules — ^List of Members — Philosophical Club — ^Their Rules-— 
Original Members — Fairchild Lecture instituted — ^Dr. Knight 
receives Copley Medal — Discovery of Nutation by Bradley — 
Harrison's Chronometers — The Copley Medal awarded — Au- 
thorities request the assistance of the Society to ventilate 
Newgate — Sanitary Measures taken by Sir John Pringle— 
Canton's Method of making Artificial Magnets^ He receives 
the Copley Medal — Dr. Gowan Knight's method — Contro- 
versy between Canton and Michell — ^Letter from Dr. Priestley 
i^Change of Style— Tables prepared by Mr. Daval, Secretary 
to the Society — Assistance afforded by Father Walmesley — 
Alterations proposed by Lord Macclesfield in the mode of pub- 
lishing the Transactiont — Committee of Papers appointed — 
Advertisement in the Volume for 1753 — Cost of Printing the 
TratuactionM — Translation of the Transactiaiu published in 
Italy— Resignation of Martin Folkes — Earl of Macclesfield 
chosen President — Mr. Folkes leaves the Society in a prosper- 
ous condition — ^Large number of Visitors to the Meetings — 
Stukely's notice of the Meetings — ^His description of a Geo- 
logical Soiree — Conceives Corals to be Vegetables. 


MARTIN FOLKES was the eldest son of Martin 
Folkes, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, and was bom in 
the parish of St. Giles in the Fields, on the 29th 
October, 1690\ He was sent when a boy to the 
University of Saumur ; where, under the superintend- 

^ Life, by Dr. Birch. 


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480 HISTORY OP [1740 — 45. 

ence of Mr. Cappel, son of the celebrated Lewis 
f Cappel, he acquired considerable knowledge of the 
'' Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages. On the sup- 
pression of that university, in J anuary, 1694 — 5, li e 
?1 returned to England, and entered at Clare Hall, Cam- 
bridge, where he added the study of philosophy and 
mathematics to that of the ancient languages. '' The 
progress," says Dr. Birch, "which he made at the 
university, and after he left it, in all parts of learning, 
and particularly mathematical and philosophical, dis- 
tinguished him at so early an age, that when he was 
but three and twenty years old he was esteemed 
worthy of a seat in the Royal Society, into which, 
having been proposed as a candidate on the 13th 
December, 1713, he was, on the 29th July following, 

In 1723 he was appointed a Vice-President of the 
Society, by Sir Isaac Newton, and when declining 
health no longer permitted that illustrious philo- 
sopher to preside, the chair was often occupied by 
Mr. Folkes. At the first anniversary election after 
the death of Newton, he was competitor with Sir 
Hans Sloane for the office of President ; his interest 
was supported by a great number of Fellows, but the 
choice, as we have already seen, fell upon Sir Hans. 

In 1733 he set out with his family for Italy, for 
the purpose of improving himself in classical antiquity. 
He remained abroad two years and a half, and lost 
no opportunity of acquiring information upon archaeo- 
logical and classical subjects. On his return to Eng- 
land, he presented the Royal Society with his Remarks 
on tJie Standard Measure preserved in the Capitol 

^ Lif^^ by Dr, Birch. 


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1740 — 45.] THE HOYAL SOCTETY. 481 

qf Romey and the model of an ancient globe in the 
Farnese Palace, which model was made at Rome, 
under his direction: the original sphere, in stone, 
supported by an atlas, was supposed to have been 
made in the year of the Christian era 112, towards the 
end of the Emperor Trajan's reign. 

In 1742 he was elected a Member of the French 
Academy. His election is thus alluded to in the Sloge:— 

" La mart du c^lebre M. HaUey ayant fait vaquer parmi 
now en 1742 une place cTAssociS Etranger^ FAcadhnie crut 
ne pauvoir mieua riparer la perte qu^eUe venoit de /aire qu'en 
nammant M. Follee i cette place, et il fut Sh le 5 Septembre 
de la mSme annSe. 

^^ A peine en avoit-il refu la nouvelle, que wyidant appa* 
remment /aire voir qu'il se croyait attacks disormais i la 
France sane cesser cependant de litre d sa patrie^ il lut une 
mSmoire igalement interessant pour les deuw nations ; ce fut 
la comparaison des mesures et des poids de Vune et de Vautre, 
qu'U donna a la Sociiti Boyale avec totU le detail de ce qu*il 
avait fait pour ien assurerV 

On the death of Algernon, Duke of Somerset, 
President of the Society of Antiquaries, in February, 
1750, Mr. Folkes, then one of the Vice-Presidents, 
was elected to succeed his grace in that office, in 
which he was continued by the charter of incorpo- 
ration of that Society, November 2, 1751*. 

On the 26th September, 1753, according to a 
manuscript memoir of Folkes in the British Museum ^ 
he was seized with a palsy which deprived him of 
the use of his left side. In this unhappy situation he 
languished until June 28, 1754, when a second stroke 

3 HUt. de VAcad., 1754, p. 1 74. * Arehaologia, Vol. i. p. 38. 

« Additional MSS. No. 4222. 



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482 HISTORY OF [1740 *5. 

put an end to his life. He was buried at Hilling- 
ton, near Lynn, in Norfolk, under a black marble slab, 
with no other inscription than the date of his death 
and his name, in conformity with the express direction 
of his last will. By his wife, Lucretia Bradshaw, who 
had been an actress, he left two daughters. He con- 
tributed ten Papers to the Transdctions. 

Martin Folkes was a man of extensive knowledge, 
which has however rendered more service to archaeo- 
logy than to science ; the latter being chiefly enriched 
by his work on the intricate subject of coins, weights, 
and measures ^ 

The sale of his library, engravings, coins, and 
medals, lasted fifty-six days, and produced 30902. 5^. 
His numerous manuscripts not being in a fit state for 
publication, were destroyed by his orders a short 
time previous to his death. 

Immediately after he was elected President, he 
presented the Society with 100/. ; and at his death 
bequeathed them 200/., a magnificent portrait of Lord 
Chancellor Bacon, and a large cornelian seal-ring bear- 
ing the Arms of the Society, for the perpetual use of 
the President. Dassier struck a medal in his honour 
in 1740 ; and two years afterwards another was struck 
at Rome, bearing the motto Stui sidera morunt, with 
a pyramid and sphinx. In 1 792 a handsome monument 
was erected to his memory, in Westminster Abbey, on 
the south side of the choir. Dr. Jurin, Secretary to 
the Society, dedicated the 34th volume of the Trans^ 

'" ^ Mr. Folkes purposed illustrating this work, and had engraved 
42 plates, which were, however, in an incomplete state at the time 
of his death. These, with the copyright of the book and tables, were 
purchased by the Society of Antiquaries, and the whole published 
under the care of Dr. Gifford in 1 763. 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 483 

actions to him, and concludes the dedication with the 
compliment, '' It is sufficient to say of Mr. Folkes, that 
he was Sir Isaac Newton's friend^ and was often 
singled out by that great man to fill his chair, and to 
preside in the assemblies of the Royal Society, when the 
frequent returns of his indisposition would no longer 
permit him to attend them wiih his ttstial assiduity'' 

Mr. Folkes presented the Society with a fine 
portrait of himself painted by Hogarth. 

It is an undeniable incident, that in selecting Mr. 
Folkes to fill the chair so lately occupied by Newton, 
the Society ran some risk of their Meetings assuming 
more of a literary than a scientific character, for at 
that period the business of the Society, as well as the 
publication of Papers in the Transactions^ were con* 
siderably influenced by the President. Dr. Thomson, 
in his short account of the Society, says, "If any 
person will take the trouble to examine the volumes 
of Transactions published during the presidency of 
Martin Folkes, and to compare them with the rest of 
the work, he will find a much greater proportion 
of trifling and puerile papers than are any where else 
to be found." This remark, it must be admitted, is 
true ; and the charge of puerility may also be applied 
to the proceedings of some of the ordinary Meetings 
recorded with great minuteness in the Journal-books^ 

' A remarkable instance occnrs in the 19th volume of the Jour- 
nal-book, in the case of an old woman described as having been 
found burnt to death. She was regarded by many of her neigh- 
bours as a witch, and it is stated, that the gentlemen who fur- 
nished an account of the event, also mentioned ^^some strange 
magical experiments pretended to be performed at the same time 
by a farmer, who thought himself injured by her, and who imagined 
that what he did in the burning of some of his sheep, must have 
been the cause of what happened to her ; which articles not seeming 

112 to 


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484 HISTORY OP [1740 to. 

** It was during this period," says Dr. Thomson, " that 
Sir John Hill published his Review of the Works of 
the Royal Society of London^ in which he endeavours^ 
with all the humour and all the knowledge he was 
master o^ to throw ridicule upon the labours of that 
illustrious body. He was induced, it is said, to take 
this step, in consequence of being disappointed in aa 
attempt which he had made to be elected a Fellow. 
The story is by no means improbable, though he him- 
self formally disavows its truth^ It cannot be denied 
that he has selected and exposed a variety of trifling 
and absurd papers. But his own humour is coarse 
and poor, and in more instances than one the state- 
ments contained in the papers which he attempts to 
ridicule, are much more accurate than his own. He 
affirms that at the time he wrote, the Society was en- 
tirely under the management of Mr. Henry Baker, a 
man of acknowledged abilities, but whose knowledge 
and pursuits were too circumscribed to qualify him 
for superintending such a Society with advantage*." 

to come within the verge of natural knowledge, created an unusual 
demur about returning thanks, but which when considered was 
overruled, as being, in truth, a relation of fact, that there is, how- 
ever, such an opinion about her ; whereupon it was ordered that 
thanks be returned to these gentlemen." p. 300. 

® These are his words : " The elections into the Royal Society 
are in great form ; a recommendation is drawn up in vnriting, si^ed 
by several of the Members, who declare the person worthy of that 
great honour; this is hung up in the room of their Meetmgs a quarter 
of a year, and at the end of that time it is put to the ballot 
whether the Candidate shall be received. If it were true that the 
author of these animadversions was ever so recommended, or so 
ballotted for, the paper must remain, and those at least who gave 
the negative balls would remember that they did so." Prrface^ 

* It does not appear that the gentleman here alluded to, took 


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1740 — ^45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 485 

Sir John Hill's book, which is more curious in a 
literary than any other point of view, is directed prin- 
cipally against Mr. Folkes, to whom, indeed, it is dedi- 
cated. In the dedication the author says, "you have 
so natural a right to the patronage of these animad- 
versions, that it were at once unjust and ungrateful to 
rob you of the honour. It is to you alone that the 
world owes their having been written ; the purport 
of the more considerable of them has been long since 
delivered to you in conversation; and if you had 
thought the Society deserved to escape the censure 
that must attend this method of laying them before 
the world, you might have prevented it by making 
the necessary use of them in private." The whole 
book, as Dr. Thomson justly observes, is a poor at- 
tempt at humour, and glaringly exhibits the feelings 
of a disappointed man. It is probable, however, that 
the points told with some effect on the Society ; for 
shortly after its publication the Transactiom possess 
a much higher scientific value. 

any active part in the official business of the Society : at least, his 
name does not occur in the Journal-books as so doing. His cer- 
tificate states him to be a person '^ well versed in mathematicks and 
natural knowledge, particularly eminent for his great skill and 
happy success in teaching persons bom deaf, and consequently 
dumb, to speak, (having improved upon that great invention of the 
late famous Dr. Wallis), author of a very beautiful poem called the 
Univeney with many curious notes regarding natural history, and 
one who hath communicated some useful papers to the Royal So- 
ciety." He was recommended by Sir Hans Sloane, Dr. Mortimer, 
and Mr. Folkes, and elected on the 12th March, 1740—1 ; and in 
1744 he received the Copley Medal, by adjudication of Sir Hans 
Sloane, for ''curious experiments relating to the crystallization or 
configuration of the minute particles of saline bodies dissolved in 
A menstruum." 


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486 HISTORY OF [1740 — 45. 

Sir John Hill was not alone in his attempts to 
cast ridicule on the scientific labours of the Fellows. 
The author of a pamphlet entitled, A Dissertation on 
Royal Societies^ in three letters from a Nobleman on 
his travelSj written about the same period, endeavours 
to malign the Society, and writes of the Fellows as 
''personages acting the importants, and solemnly met 
to trifle away time in empty forms and grave grimace.'' 
As a contradiction to this statement, the following 
extract from an article on the Society, published in 
the Monihlt/ Bemew of the same date, will be perused 
with interest : — 

'*We ourselves were present," says the writer, "some 
few nights ago at a Meeting of the Society, when a 
paper model of a cell in an honey-comb was produced, 
which had been sent by that great ornament to ma- 
thematical knowledge, Professor M*^Laurin. Several 
strangers, introduced by some of the Fellows, (who are 
allowed to bring their friends occasionally), began to 
discover in their faces a mixture of mirth and contempt, 
at seeing an object so trivial, which had been trans- 
mitted AS far as from Scotland. But when the Professor's 
treatise, which accompanied the model, had demon- 
strated that it was beyond all mathematical power to 
assign another figure that would compose an equal num- 
ber of cells in the same given space, their tittering gave 
place to silent confusion and astonishment; and the - 
Great Creator, from this little piece of modelled paper, 
received the honour due to his immense wisdom, which 
had infused into the little architects of the honey-comb 
a kind of knowledge more than human. 

" But, to do further justice to this respectable body, 
it is impossible, in the nature of things, that the im- 
portance of several of their communications should 


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1740 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 487 

appear at once. The hints of one year may the next 
be carried on to experiments ; and those experiments 
gradually open either a new, or an improved field of 
natural knowledge. The design of the Society is to 
incite the learned in all parts of the world to improve 
upon their labours, to correct them when necessary ; in 
short, to make what use of them they please ; so that 
natural and mathematical knowledge may be promoted : 
and he that will take upon him to aver that the Royal 
Society of London have not made the noblest contribu* 
tions to the advancement of these most useful sciences, 
must have more hardiness than either modesty or learn- 
ing. He must utterly have forgot that there ever 
existed among them a Boyle, a Ray, or (ille ! 1 New- ' 
ton I Qiwt Aristoteles l) the greatest philosopher the world 
ever did, or, it is to be feared, ever will see." 

Pursuing the chronological order of events, from 
which the notice of Sir John HilFs book has led us 
away, we must revert to the year 1742, which was 
marked by the death of Halley, in whom the Society 
lost one of their most distinguished Members. For 
some years before his death, he had suffered from an 
attack of paralysis, which manifested itself in the 
first instance in 1737; he still continued, however, to 
attend the weekly Meetings of the Society, until his 
disorder increasing, he expired on the 14th January, 
1741 — 2, in the 86th year of his age. He was buried 
at the church of Lee, in Kent. The inscription 
records that, with his dearest wife, there reposes by 
far the chief astronomer of his age, Astronomorum 
sui sceadi/acild princes: and adds, " That you may 
know, reader, what kind of, and how great a man he 
was, read the multifarious writings with which he 
has illustrated, adorned, and amplified nearly all the 


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488 HISTORY OF [1740 *5. 

iirts and sciences." This tomb, says Captain Smyth, 
"was recently opened to receive the corpse of Mr. 
Pond, the late Astronomer-Royal *^" 

During the time that Halley was at the head of 
the Greenwich Observatory,, he observed the heavens 
with the closest attention, hardly ever permitting a 
day to pass without making observations, and per- 
forming, unassisted, the entire business of the Obser^ 
vatory. His writings are very numerous, comprehend- 
ing no fewer than twelve distinct works, and eighty- 
one Papers in the Philosophical Tramactions. His 
portrait is amongst the Society's collection. 

Halley was succeeded as Astronomer-Royal by 
Dr. James Bradley, who was principally indebted to 
George, Earl of Macclesfield, for his appointment. 
This nobleman interceded strongly in Bradley's favour, 
and addressed the subjoined earnest letter to Lord 
Chancellor Hardwicke. 

"My Lord, '' Shirbum, Jan. 14, 1741 — 2. 

*' Yesterday I received notice that Dr. Halley 
could not hold out longer than a day or two, and I 
hope your Lordship will pardon my troubling you with 
this in behalf of my friend Mr. Bradley, whom you for- 
merly seemed inclined to serve whenever Dr. Halley's 
death should make a vacancy at Greenwich. 

" It is not the salary annexed to that professorship 
which makes me so desirous that Mr. Bradley should 
succeed Dr. Halley in it, but there is a credit attending 
such a professorship when possessed by a man of real 
merit; and it is a disappointment to, and a sort of 
slight put upon, such a person, when, upon a vacancy, 
he is neglected, and a person much inferior to him is 


Cycle o/CelestuU Obfects, Vol, i. p. 55. 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 489 

preferred before him : and give fne leave to say, that 
must be Mr. Bradley's case whosoever, except himself, 
succeed Dr. Halley; and, besides Mr. Bradley's abilities, 
he has so very great a liking to the practical part of 
astronomy, the making observations, that, on that score, 
it would be extremely agreeable to him, and the science 
would have the greatest reason to expect to receive 
very considerable improvements from his observations. 

" But it is not only my friendship for Mr. Bradley 
that makes me so ardently wish to see him possessed 
of the professorship, it is my real concern for the honour 
of the nation with regard to science. For, as our credit 
and reputation have hitherto not been inconsiderable 
amongst the astronomical part of the world, I should 
be extremely sorry we should forfeit it all at once by 
bestowing upon a man of inferior skill and abilities the 
most honourable, though not the most lucrative, post in 
the profession, (a post which has been so well filled by 
Dr. Halley, and his predecessor), when, at the same 
time, we have amongst us a man known by all the 
foreign, as well as our own astronomers, not to be in- 
ferior to either of them, and one whom Sir Isaac New- 
ton was pleased to call the best astronomer in Europe. 
This will, I flatter myself, plead my excuse, if I should 
appear a little importunate in pressing your Lordship to 
intercede early and earnestly in favour of Mr. Bradley. 
Nor can I apply on this occasion to a more proper 
person than your Lordship. For as this place has no 
relation to any department of the administration, but 
its sole business and view is the advancement and im- 
provement of the science that is of use to mankind in 
general, but more particularly so to us, as a trading 
nation, and the chief of the maritime powers : this, I 
say, being the nature of the place, to whom can the 


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490 HISTORY OF [1740 45. 

recommendation to it more properly belong than to 
your Lordship, who, -not only in private character^ but 
by your public office likewise, are the patron of learning' 
and learned men in general ? It was upon this foot that 
my father, when in the post which you now enjoy, took 
upon him to reconunend Dr. Halley to the Royal pro- 
fessorship at Greenwich, and Mr. Bradley to the Savi- 
lian at Oxford, and succeeded in both his reconmienda- 
tions ; and he always thought it for his honour to have 
reconunended two such able men. And I dare assure 
your Lordship, that if you shall be pleased to espouse 
Mr. Bradley's interest, you will have the satisfaction to 
find your recommendation of him approved and ap- 
phiuded imiversally by those who are versed in those 

studies, both at home and abroad. ...But, my Lord, 

we live in an age when most men, how Uttle soever their 
merit may be, seem to think themselves fit for whatever 
they can get, and often meet with some people, who by 
their recommendations appear to entertain the same 
opinion of them ; and it is for this reason that I am so 
pressing with your Lordship not to lose any time, as 
I am confident you would be sorry the professorship 
should be given to a person unqualified for it, and the 
finest instrument perhaps in the universe put into the 
hands of a person unable to make a proper use of it, 
and this to the prejudice of the best qualified and most 
able astronomer, that not only this nation, but, pro- 
bably, all the world can at present shew"." 

Lord Macclesfield succeeded in his desire, and 
although not supporting Government, the weight 

^* The original of this letter is preserved at Shirbum Castle, 
and was first printed in Bradley's Warkg^ edited by the late Pro- 
fessor Rigaud. 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 491 

which was justly attributed to his opinion on sci- 
entific subjects, very property caused the minister to 
appoint Bradley, to whom, it will be remembered, we 
are indebted for two of the most beautiful discoveries 
of which the science of Astronomy can boast^ — ^the 
aberration of light, and the nutation of the earth's 
axis. In 1748, the Society prevailed on Government 
to expend 1000/. on new astronomical instruments 
for the Observatory, which were constructed by the 
celebrated artists, Graham and Bird. Bradley made 
a most assiduous use of these instruments. 

In 1743 the RoyaJ Society Club was founded 
under the designation of the "Club of the Royal 
Philosophers." Through the kindness of Joseph 
Smith, Esq., Treasurer to the Club, who has, with 
the permission of the Members, placed the Minutes 
in my hands, I am enabled to quote the original 
regulations. They are dated October 27, 1743 : — 

"Rules and Orders to be observed by the Thurs- 
day's Club, called the Royal Philosophers. 

'* A Dinner to be ordered every Thursday for six, 
at one shilling and sixpence a head for eating. As 
many more as come to pay one shilling and sixpence 
per head each. If fewer than six come, the deficiency 
to be paid out of the fund subscribed. 

" Each Subscriber to pay down six shillings, viz. for 
four dinners, to make a fund. 

" A pint of wine to be paid for by every one that 
comes, be the number what it will, and no more, unless 
more wine is brought in than that amounts to." 

The names appended to these rules are, Mr. Pos- 
tlethwaite, Rev. Thomas Birch, Mr. Colebrooke, Mr. 
Dixon, Mr. Watson, Captain Middleton, Mr. R. Gra- 


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492 HISTORY OP [I7i0 — 4S. 

liam, and Mr. Burrow. Mr. Colebrooke was appointed 

From this period to the present time, the Club 
have continued to meet with great regularity. The 
original Members were soon increased by various 
Fellows of the Society ; amongst whom was Martin 
Folkes, who was elected President of the Club, Lord 
Macclesfield, Lord Charles Cavendish, Sir John Prin- 
gle, &c. In 1748 the following additional rules were 
made : — 

" Ordered, that the under-mentioned notice be hung 
iip in the Club room, viz. 

" It is thought proper to inform the Gentlemen who 
dine here, that all those who are not Subscribers them- 
selves must be introduced by a Subscriber present each 
time they dine here. 

" Resolved, that the number of Members to this 
Club shall not exceed forty for the future ; that the 
election of Members, to supply any vacancy that shall 
happen by death or otherwise, be made annually, on 
the last Thursday in July, by ballot, by the Members 
then present, and that no person be deemed chosen who 
hath five negatives. 

" That those Gentlemen who have not attended 
for twelve months, nor sent an excuse, be deemed no 
longer Members, and that their places be filled up 
out of those Gentlemen that are Candidates, whose 
names are to be put to ballot, according to their pre- 
cedence on the list which is ordered to be kept for that 

In 1749 it was " Resolved, nemine contradicente, 
that no strangers be admitted to dine here for the 
future, except introduced by the President." 

In 1760 it was "Resolved by baUot, that no per- 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAI^ SOCIETY. 493 

son be deemed chosen a Member of this Society who 
shall have three negatives." Some of the entries ia 
the oldest Minute-book are very curious. Under the 
date of May 3, 1750, it is recorded: "Resolved nem. 
con. That any nobleman or gentleman complimenting 
this company annually with venison, not less than a 
baunch, shall, during the continuance of such annuity, 
be deemed an Honorary Member, and admitted as 
often as he comes without paying the fine, which 
those Members do who are elected by ballot." At 
another Meeting in the same year a resolution was 
passed, "That any gentleman complimenting this 
Society annually with a turtle, should be considered 
as an Honorary Member;" and that "the Treasurer 
do pay keeper's fees and carriage for all venison sent 
to the Society, and charge it in his account." Such a 
resolution seems to have been desirable, for I find 
very frequent entries of gifts of venison, which are 
thus recorded: "Paid keeper's fee and carriage of 
half a buck, from Hon. Philip York, 14^.; ditto from 
Earl of Hardwick, 1 /. 5«." The more general entry 
is simply fees for venison; but the Club were not 
regaled by venison alone. Presents of salmon and 
turtle are also duly chronicled, and the gift of good 
old English roast beef was not despised, as appears 
by the subjoined minute, under the date of June 27, 
.1751, when Martin Folkes presided. 

" William Hanbury, Esq. having this day entertained 
the company with a Chine of Beef which was 34 inches 
in length, and weighed upwards of 140 pounds, it was 
^agreed, nem, con,, that two such chines were equal to 
.halfe a Bucke, or a Turtle, and entituled the Donor to 
"he an Honorary Member of this Society." 


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494 HISTORY OF [1740 *5. 

The Minutes record that the Club met at the 
Mitre Tavem in Fleet Street, from the date of their 
institution until December, 1780, on the 21st of 
which month, the members dined for the first time 
at the Crown and Anchor, in the Strand, where they 
continued to meet until that Tavern was converted 
in 1847 into a club-house^^ It is interesting to 
observe the periodical increase in the charges for 
dinner, &c. From 1743 to 1756, the cost was Is. 6d. 
per head. In the latter year, it was resolved to 
give 3^. per head for dinner and wine, the commons 
for absentees to renudn at 1$. 6</., as before. In 
1775, the price was increased to 4^. a-head, including 
wine, and 2d. to the waiter ; in 1801, to 5^. a-head 
exclusive of wine, the increased duties upon which 
made it necessary for the members to contribute an 
annual sum for the expense of wine", over and above 
the charge of the Tavern-bills ; and in successive years 
the sum increased to 10^., which is the amount now 
paid per head, any deficiency being made up by the 
annual subscriptions of members. 

The following are the Rules now in operation : — 
*« Rules for the Royal Society Club. 

" I. The Club shall consist of Forty ordinary Mem- 
bers, who must be Fellows of the Royal Society, exclu- 
sive of the following, who shall be Members ea officio ; 
viz. the President ; the Treasurer ; the two Secretaries ; 
the Foreign Secretary ; and the Astronomer Royal ;-— 

*' They now dine at the Freemason's Tavern, in Great Queea 

" The price of wine was ordered to be limited to one shilling 
and sixpence a bottle. 



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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 495 

not only those for the time being, but also those who 
may have filled any of these offices. Provided, how- 
ever. That upon any Gentleman becoming entitled, from 
his official station in the Royal Society, to be a Member 
of this Club, the Treasurer of the Club be instructed to 
ask him, whether it be his intention to take advantage 
of such privilege, and to become permanently a Sulh- 
scribinff Member. 

<'II. Every Candidate must be proposed by one 
Member of the Club, and seconded by another. 

*'J1L The Annual Election of Members shall be 
held on the Thursday in the week following that on 
which the Royal Society Meetings dose for the Vaca- 

'' IV. The Candidates shall be ballotted for in the 
order in which they have been proposed. 

"V. No person shall be deemed elected as a 
Member, unless he shall have three-fourths, or more, of 
the Votes in his favour. 

'' VI. Any Member who has not attended the Club 
at least once between, and exclusive of, the two Anni- 
versary Meetings, shall no longer be considered as a 

"VTL Provided, however, That any Member de- 
claring his intention of going abroad, shall be con- 
sidered as a supernumerary Member during his absence, 
without paying his annual contribution; but his va- 
cancy shall be filled up. And on his return he shall 
be admitted to the Meetings of the Club on the usual 
terms, and be admitted as a regular Member on 
the first Vacancy, on his signifying a wish to that 

" Vni. Any Member who may resign his seat on 
account of leaving the kingdom, shall, on being regu- 


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496 HISTORY OF [1740—45. 

larly proposed and seconded for re-admission, have a 
preference to other Candidates in the order of ballot. 

*' IX. The Meetings of the Club shall be continued 
every Thursday throughout the year, unless a special 
Eesolution be made to the contrary**. 

"X. The Treasurer shall lay his accounts before 
the Club at the Anniversary Meeting, when the amount 
of the next succeeding year's Subscription shall be 
fixed; and it is expected that every Member will pay 
his Subscription on that day, or on the day when he 
next attends the Club, in order to prevent arrears. 

" XI. Every newly elected Member of the Club, 
whether by ballot, or ex-offixnOy shall pay an admission 
fee of Two Guineas, in addition to the annual contribu- 
tion, to defray the expenses of the Club. 

" XII. Every Member of the Club shall have the pri- 
vilege of introducing one Visitor ; but the President, or, 
in his absence, the Chairman, shall not be so limited. 

" XIII. Every Member bringing a Visitor, shall write 
his name under his own, to be laid on the tabic ; and 
no Visitor can be admitted into the room till this regu- 
lation shall have been complied with. 

"XIV. No Visitor shall, on any account, be ad- 
mitted on the Anniversary of the Club**. 

" XV. It is expected that those Members who may 
bring their servants, will order them to assist generally 
in waiting at table." 

'* During the vacation the Club meet only on the first Thursday 
in each month. 

^ This is held on the Thursday succeeding the last Meeting 
of the Society for the Session. All the business of the Club is 
transacted at this Meeting. Mr. R. Brown informs me, that when 
Solander was treasurer, the Memhers had the privilege of voting 
by proxy. 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 497 

The iubjovMd are ihe present Members of the Royal 
Society Club. 

The Marquis of Northampton. President. 
P. M. Roget, M.D. J. G. Children. 

W. T. Brande. Charles Konig. 

S. H. Christie. Col. Sabine. 

George Rennie. Capt. Smyth, R.N. 

Sir John Barrow, Bart. 
John Barrow. 
Col. Batty. 
Admiral Beaufort. 
Nicholas, Lord Bexley. 
R. E. Broughton. 
Robert Brown. 
Rev. C. P. Bumey, D.D. 
C. G. B. Daubeny. 
Hart Davis. 
John Dickinson. 
George DoUond. 
Charles Elliott. 
Thomas Galloway. 
Edward Hawkins. 
Dean of Hereford. 
Sir John F. W. Herschel, 

Sir Robert H. Inglis, Bart. 
Rev. Philip Jennings, D.D. 


Sir Alexander Johnston. 

Lieut.-Col. Leake. 

John G. S. Lefevre. 

Lord Lyttelton. 

Thomas Mayo. 

Sir Roderick I. Murchison 

Richard Penn. 

William H. Pepys. 

Rev. Baden Powell. 

Sir John Rennie. 

Sir Martin A. Shee, P.R.A. 

Joseph Smith. 

Sir George T. Staunton, 

Charles John, Lord Teign- 

Travers Twiss, D.CX. 
James Walker. 
Dean of Westminster. 
Charles Wheatstone. 

General Colby. Herbert Mayo. 

Sir John Franklin, R.N. 
VOL. I. K K 


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498 HISTORY OF [1740 *o. 

The President of the Royal Society is elected 
President of the Club. In his absence, the chair is 
taken by the senior Member present. There are 
always more candidates for admission than vacancies, 
a circumstance that had some influence in leading to 
the formation of a new Club in 1847, composed of 
eminent Fellows of the Society. The designation of 
this new Association is the * Philosophical Club,' and 
although anticipating the order of events, it has been 
thought advisable to introduce their constitution in 
this place : — 

''Objbcts and Rules of the Philosophical Club. 

*' I. The purpose of the Club is to promote as much 
as possible the scientific objects of the Royal Society, 
to facilitate intercourse between those Fellows who are 
actively engaged in cultivating the various branches of 
Natural Science, and who have contributed to its pro- 
gress ; to increase the attendance at the Evening Meet- 
ings, and to encourage the contribution and the dis- 
cussion of papers. 

** II. The number of Members shall be limited to 
forty-seven, of whom thirty-five, at least, shall be resi- 
dent within ten miles of the General Post Ofiice. With 
the exception of scientific Foreigners, temporarily visit- 
ing this country, no strangers are to be present at any 
of the Meetings. 

" III. With the exception of the President of the 
Royal Society for the time being, those only shall be 
eligible as Members of the Club who are Fellows of the 
Royal Society, and authors, either of a paper published 
in the Transactions of one of the chartered Societies, 
established for the promotion of natural science, or of 
some work of original research in natural science. 

" IV. The Meetings of the Club shall take place once 


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1740 — 45.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 499 

a month, on Thursdays, from October to June, both ub- 
clusive, except the Anniversary Meeting, which shall 
take place on the last Monday in April. The chair 
shall be taken at half-past five o'clock precisely, and 
quitted at one quarter past eight ; each Member pre- 
siding in turn in alphabetical order. It shall be the 
duty of the Chairman to regulate and control all ballots 
and discussions in the Club ; to announce to the Meet- 
ing, previously to seven o'clock, the subject of the paper 
to be read at the Royal Society that evening, and to 
bring forward, or to invite Members of the Club to 
bring forward, any correspondence or scientific subjects 
worthy of consideration. Members will be expected 
afterwards to attend the Meeting of the Boyal Society, 
unless unavoidably prevented. The times of Meeting 
shall be notified each year by a circular from the Trea- 
surer, and also by a note to each Member one week 
before every Meeting. 

" V. At the first Meeting of the Club, a Treasurer, 
and a Committee of four, shall be appointed, who shall 
together advise on the general management of the Club. 

" VI. The Committee shall subsequently be elected 
by ballot at each Anniversary Meeting. Two Members of 
the Committee shall retire by seniority each year, being 
however re-eligible after the space of one year. 

" YII. The Treasurer shall be elected annually, at 
the same time and in the same manner with the Com- 
mittee^^; he shall not remain in office longer than three 
years, though re-eligible after the space of one year. 
The Treasurer shall, with the concurrence of the Com- 
mittee, order and arrange the time and place of meet- 
ing, and smnmon Special Meetings when deemed neces- 

" Mr. Grove, who has kindly placed a copy of these rules in 
my hands, is the first Treasurer. 



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500 HISTORY OF [1740 4-5. 

sary. The Treasurer shall receive the subscription of 
Members, and keep the accounts of the Club ; he shall 
prepare and issue all notices, regulate the dinners, and 
act as Vice-Chairman whenever he is present. It shall 
also be the duty of the Treasurer to keep a register of 
all Meetings of the Club, to make a minute of all reso- 
lutions which may be adopted, and, whenever practi- 
cable, to furnish the Chairman with the title of the 
Paper to be read at the Royal Society on the evenings 
of the Meeting of the Club. 

"VIII. The subscription shall not exceed twenty 
shillings per annum, to be paid to the Treasurer at the 
iBrst Meeting of the session; the price of each dinner 
shall not exceed ten shillings. 

*' IX. Candidates for election shall be proposed in 
writing by three Members of the Club, not being Mem- 
bers of the Committee. The certificates, stating the 
grounds of eligibility from personal knowledge, shall be 
transmitted to the Treasurer, read by him at the next 
Club Meeting, and retained by him until the Anniver- 
sary. If the number of Candidates exceed the number 
of vacancies, the Committee shall at this Meeting report 
to the Club those of the Candidates whom they consider 
the most eligible to fill the vacancies, and the Candi- 
dates so recommended shall be entitled to priority of 
ballot. In case of no excess in the number of Candi- 
dates, or of the non-election of those recommended by 
the Committee, the ballot shall take place according to 
priority of the date of proposal. The ballot shall take 
place at the Anniversary, provided fifteen Members be 
present ; one black ball in five to exclude. If less than 
fifteen be present, the Meeting shall adjourn, and the 
ballot shall take place at the first adjourned Meeting at 
which fifteen shall be present. 


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1740 — 45.] 



''X. All new Rules ehall be proposed by at least 
three Members, notified in writing, to the Committee, 
and read to the Club at least two Meetings previously 
to the Anniversary. They shall afterwards be taken 
into consideration, and put to the vote at the Anniver- 
sary Meeting. If four-fifths of those present (the quorum 
being fifteen) be in favour of the proposed new Rule, it 
shall be adopted, otherwise not." 

Original Members of the Philosophical Club. 

David Thomas Ansted. 
Francis Beaufort. 
Thomas Bell. 
William Bowman. 
William John Broderip. 
Robert Brown. 
Proby Cautley. 
Samuel Hunter Christie. 
H. T. De la Beche. 
P. de M. G. Egerton. 
Hugh Falconer. 
Michael Faraday. 
Edward Forbes. 
J. P. Gassiot. 
John Goodsir. 
Thomas Graham. 
John Thomas Graves. 
J. H. Green. 
William Robert Grove. 
William Snow Harris. 
J. F. W. Herschel. 
J. D. Hooker. 
William Hopkins. 
Leonard Horner. 

Charles Lyell. 
James MacCullagh. 
William Allen Miller. 
William Hallows Miller. 
Roderick Impey Murchison. 
George Newport. 
Richard Owen. 
Richard Partridge. 
Jonathan Pereira. 
John Phillips. 
George Rennie. 
John Richardson. 
J. F, Royle. 
Edward Sabine. 
Adam Sedgwick. 
William Sharpey. 
William Henry Smyth. 
Edward Solly. 
William Spence. 
William Henry Sykes. 
W. H. F. Talbot. 
Nathaniel Wallich. 
Charles Wheatstone. 


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502 HISTORY OF [1745 50. I 

In 1746 a lecture or sermon on the ** wonderful 
works of God in the Creation,'' was instituted, which 
had its origin in a bequest of 25^., left by Mr. Thomas 
Fairchild, of Hoxton, in the parish of St. Leonard, 
Shoreditch, The will was proved in 1729, and, at 
the same time, it was resolved by the Council, that a 
subscription should be opened to increase the above 
sum to 100 L This amount was made up in 1746*^ 
and laid out in the purchase of South Sea stock, the 
accruing dividends being given annually to a lecturer 
appointed by the President and Council, in accord- 
ance with the terms of the bequest, which were : 
''To preach a sermon in the parish-church of St. 
Leonard, Shoreditch, in the afternoon of the Tuesday 
in every Whitsun week in each year, on The wonder- 
ful Works of God in the Creation ; or on the Cer- 
tainty of the Resurrection of the Dead, proved by 
certain changes of the animal and vegetable parts of 
the Creation." 

It was the custom for the President, accompanied 
by several Fellows of the Society, to hear this sermon 
preached. Stukeley records : "Whitsunday, June 4, 
1750, I went with Mr. Folkes, and other Fellows, to 
Shoreditch, to hear Dr. Denne preach Fairchild's ser- 
mon. On the Beautys of the Vegetable World. We 
were entertained by Mr. Whetman, the vinegar-mer- 

'^ Among the subscribers are Sir Hans Sloane, Lord Charles 
Cayendish, Dr. Alexander Stuart, and Dr. James Douglas ; but tfao 
sum collected being insufficient, Archdeacon Denne afterwards added 
29/. out of the money he had received for preaching the sermon. 
He was the first lecturer, and one of the Trustees of Mr. Fairchild's 
bequest. Some of his lectures are published. The present lecturer 
is the Rey. John Joseph Ellis, M.A. 


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1745 — 50.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 603 

chant, at his elegant house by Moorfields ; a pleasant 
place encompassed with gardens well stored with all 
sorts of curious flowers and shrubs, where we spent 
the day very agreeably, enjoying all the pleasures of 
the country in town, with the addition of philoso- 
phical company"." 

Though but of slight importance in an historical 
point of view, it is worthy of notice, as indicative 
of the times, that in 1746 the hour of the Anniversary 
Meeting was changed from 9 a. m. to 10 a. m. ; at the 
same time, the place of dining was altered from Pon- 
tock's Tavern in Abchurch Lane (which it is stated 
was inconveniently situated for the majority of the 
Fellows), to the Devil Tavern, near Temple Bar'*. 
It appears by the Minutes of Council, that it was cus- 
tomary to make a collection after dinner, and if this 
fell short of the expenses incurred, the deficit was 
supplied from the funds of the Society. It is almost 
unnecessary to say, that this custom has long since 

'' MS. Journal. 

" This Devil Tavern, on the site now occupied hy Child's 
Place, was the lesort of several of the wits and literati of the day. 
At Dulwich College are preserved some of Ben Jonson's Memo- 
randa, which prove that he owed much of his inspiration to good 
wine^ and the convivial hours he passed at the Devil Tavern. 
'' Mem. I laid the plot of my Volpone^ and wrote most of it, after 
a present of ten dozen of palm-sack from my very good Lord T- — j 
that play I am positive will live to posterity and be acted, when 
I and Envy be friends, with applause." " Mem. The first speech in 
my Catalina spoken by Sylla's Ghost, was writ after I parted with 
my friend at the Devil Tavern : I had drank well that night, and 
had brave notions. There is one scene in that play which I think 
is flat. I resolve to drink no more water with my wine." " Mem. 
Upon the 20th May, the King (Heaven reward him !) sent me 100/. 
At that time I often went to the Devil, and before I had spent 
forty of it wrote my Alchymist" 


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504 HISTORY OF [1745 — 50. 

been discontinued. At the Anniversary in 1 747, Dr. 
Gowan Knight received the Copley Medal for his 
experiments in Magnetism^, performed before the 
Society on various occasions". Mr. Machin, who had 
filled the office of Secretary for the long period of 
twenty-nine years, retired on account of declining 
health, and Peter Daval was elected in his place. 
The other officers were continued. 

In 1748 Bradley made a communication, announc- 
ing his discovery of Nutation, which was published 
in the Transactions^ and honoured by the award of 
the Copley Medal. On this occasion, the President, 
Martin Folkes, delivered an Address of considerable 
length at the Anniversary Meeting, when the Medal 
was given, explanatory of Bradley's discoveries. 

The bestowal of the Copley Medal still rested with 
Sir Hans Sloane, but it appears that he had no hesi- 
tation in conferring it upon the illustrious astronomer, 
as Mr. Folkes says : '' Sir Hans Sloane, who, in the 
autumn of a long life, laboriously spent in the service 
of mankind, has at last dedicated the remainder of 
his days to contemplation, in a studious and philo- 
sophical retirement, still attentive to the progress of 
the sciences, and to the welfare of this Society, over 
which he so long and worthily presided, and of which 
he is now the affectionate father : this venerable per- 
son, I say, when I gave him some account of these 
important discoveries, immediately judged it incum- 
bent upon him, as the surviving Trustee of the late 

^ These related to the making of artificial magnets, of which we 
shall have more to say presently. 

*^ ITie President delivered an Address at the time of the award. 
See Journal- book, Vol. xx. p. 358. 


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1745 — 50,] THE KOYAL SOCIETY. 505 

Sir Godfrey Copley, to recommend it to your Council, 
to present to Dr. Bradley the next annual Medal." 
Then addressing the Astronomer-Royal, the President 
said, '' I do not doubt but that you will set the justest 
value upon such a testimonial of the respects of a 
Society, to whose service you have devoted your 
studies, and whose honour and reputation you have 
so eminently promoted by your constant pursuit of» 
and application to, that knowledge, for the advance- 
ment of which this Society was instituted by their 
Royal Founder. 

" I am indeed well assured that every one of my 
brethren here present sincerely joins with me in the 
true satisfaction which I have to see so able an astro- 
nomer worthily seated in the place where the great 
Dr. Halley and Mr. Flamsteed sat before him : in the 
most honourable post to which merit can here raise a 
professor of this science, that of his Majesty's Royal 
Astronomer; and in which I have still the greater 
pleasure, from the near prospect I have of soon seeing 
him possessed, through his Majesty's royal bounty, 
of an Observatory every way well fitted for the 
purposes of astronomy, and of a set of instruments 
capable of affording the most accurate observations, 
wherewith he will be further enabled to pursue the 
great work that lies before him, and to add new 
lustre to that science which he has already so greatly 

Bradley's discoveries throw great lustre on the 
Royal Society, and strongly redeem the body from 
the satirical but superficial strictures of Sir John 
Hill, and others. 

22 Journal-book, Volf xx. p. 599. 


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506 HISTORY OP [1750 — 55. 

'' CTest d 8€S deux dScouvef^tes de Bradley,^ says 
Delambre» **qtie nous devans F exactitude de F astro- 
nomie modeime* Sans dle^ U 6tait impossible d Fas- 
trofume le plus soigneux de faire accorder ensemble 
les ascensions droites observees dune m&me etoUe d 
50 €fu 60'' prhs^ et Us dSclinaisons d une demi mi- 
nute. Ce double service assure d son auteur la place 
la plus distingtiSe apris celle d^Hipparque et- de 
Kepler^ et au-dessus des plus grands astronomes de 
tous les ages et de tous les pays; ces travaux au- 
raient suffi d sa gloire^!" The discovery of Nutation 
was made when Bradley was at Greenwich; where 
''he continued, with great assiduity, observations of 
the same kind as those by which he had detected 

It may be mentioned here, that astronomers were 
greatly assisted in their researches about this period, 
by the improvement made in clocks and watches. 
This fact is worthy of record, because the Royal 
Society had some share in the merit of encourag* 
ing artists in their endeavours to improve these im* 
portant auxiliaries to astronomical observation. In 
1749 their attention was directed to the improve- 
ments effected in the construction of watches, or, as 
we now call them, chronometers, by John Harrison, 
who submitted his inventions on several occasions 
to the President and Fellows. These appeared of 
so remarkable a nature, that the Society awarded 
the Copley Medal to Harrison at the Anniversary 
Meeting in 1749, on which occasion the President 
gave an account in his Address of Harrison's inven- 

^ Astronomie an Dix-huitieme SiiclSy p. 420. 

^ Whewell, Hist. Inctuctive Sciencesy Vol. n. p. 266. 


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tions, and delivered the Medal to him with these en- 
couraging and laudatory words : 

** I do here, by the authority and in the name of the 
Boyal Society of London for improving natural know- 
edge, present you with this small but faithful token of 
their regard and esteem. I do, in their name, congra- 
tulate you upon the successes you have already had, 
and I most sincerely wish that all your future trials may 
every way prove answerable to those beginnings ; and 
that the fidl accomplishment of your great imdertaking 
may at last be crowned with all that reputation and 
advantage to yourself, that your warmest wishes can 
suggest, and to which so many years, so laudably and 
so diligently spent in the improvement of those talents 
which God Almighty has bestow'd upon you, will so 
justly entitle your constant and unwearied persever- 

Thus encouraged by the Royal Society, and doubt- 
less also animated by the hope of sharing the reward 
of 20,000/. oifered by Parliament for the discovery of 
the longitude, Harrison continued his labours with 
unwearied diligence, and produced, in 1758, a time- 
keeper, which was sent for trial on a voyage to 
Jamaica. After 161 days, the error of the instru- 
ment was only one minute five seconds, and the 
maker received from the nation 5000/.^ The Com- 

** Journal-book, Vol. xxi. The Discourse, of which the above 
is an extract, gives a very interesting account of Harrison and his 
inventions. An abstract of it is published in the Connaissanee de» 
Temps for 1765. 

*• Stukeley writes of Harrison and his clock : *' I pass'd by Mr. 
Harrison's house at Barrow, that excellent genius at clock-making, 
who bids fair for the golden prizs due to the discovery of the 



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508 HISTORY OF [1750 — 53. 

missioners of the Board of Longitude subsequently 
required Harrison to construct under their inspec- 
tion chronometers of a similar nature, which were 
subjected to a trial in a voyage to Barbados, and 
performed with such accuracy, that, after having fully- 
explained the principle of their construction to the 
Commissioners, they awarded him 10,000/. more*'; 
at the same time Euler of Berlin, and the heirs of 
Mayer of Gottingen, received each 3000/. for their 
lunar tables. 

The great attention now paid to the very import- 
ant subject of ventilation, renders it interesting to 
notice that in 1750, a Committee was appointed by 
the Society to investigate the wretched state of venti- 
lation in jails, which produced the well-known dis- 
temper called * Jail-Fever.* In the above year, the 
Lord Mayor of London, two of the judges, and an 
alderman on the bench, in consequence of the state 
of the felons tried at the Old Bailey Sessions, were 
seized with this fatal distemper, and died. This 
roused the magistrates to resolve on adopting some 
measures for rendering Newgate more healthy, and 
the assistance of the Royal Society was requested. 
Sir John Pringle and Dr. Hales recommended the 

longitude. I saw his famous clock last winter at Mr. George Gra« 
ham's; the sweetness of its motion, the contrivances to take off 
friction, to defeat the lengthening and shortening of the pendulum 
through heat and cold, and to prevent the disturbance of motion 
by that of the ship, cannot be sufficiently admired." MS. JoumaL 
^ For a detailed account of Harrison's Chronometer, see Mon- 
tucla's Hittoire det Mathematiques^ Vol. it. pp. 554 — 560. It is 
proper to mention, that the Royal Society were consulted by the 
Admiralty respecting their instruments, and that the latter acted 
entirely in conformity with their recommendations. 


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1750 — 55,'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 509 


use of a ventilator, invented by the latter. The 
machine was erected, and the salutary effects became 
speedily apparent. The deaths in Newgate were 
reduced from seven and eight in a week, to about 
two in a month. Some idea may be formed of the 
fearful state of the prison, from the fact that out of 
the eleven men employed to erect the ventilator, 
seven were attacked by the malignant fever, and one 
of these died". 

It is difficult at the present time to imagine the 
state of prisons a century ago. They were exceed- 
ingly small, ill-contrived, and consequently most fatal 
to the health of the miserable wretches doomed to 
languish in them"*. "The enlightened exertions of 
Dr. Hales and Sir John Pringle," says Dr. Thomson, 
" first turned the attention of mankind in a forcible 
manner to the importance of ventilation, which led 
to the subsequent improvements introduced into our 
ships and our prisons by Cook and Howard." 

On the 17th January, 1750 — 1, a Paper was read 
before the Society by Mr. Canton*^, entitled, " Method 

^ See a very interesting Paper on this subject, by Sir John 
Pringle, Phil, Trans.^ Vol. xlviii. 

^ It is not a little gratifying to read the following paragraph 
taken from an Edinburgh Paper, of July 13, 1847: '^ A great 
sanitary fact is at present being exemplified in Glasgow. While 
fever rages around, the prisons containing about six hundred in- 
mates have not ons fever patient." This is at once a reward to the 
friends of prison-discipline, and an encouragement to those of sanitary 

^ Mr. Canton was bom at Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 1718. 
He was apprenticed to a broad-cloth weaver, but early shewed a 
distaste for the occupation, which he relinquished for scientific pur-> 
suits. These he followed with great success, and eventually kept 
an Academy in Spital Square, London, which he continued during 



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610 HISTORY OF [1750 — 53. 

of making Artificial Magnets without the use of natu- 
ral ones"." •^This Paper, which had heen written 
some time before, would,'' says his son, Mr. William 
Canton, ^^have been communicated earlier to the 
Society, had not the author apprehended that tlie 
publication of it might be injurious to Dr. Gowan 
Knight, who procured considerable pecuniary advan* 
tages by touching needles for the mariner's compassi, 
and kept his method a secret. But Mr. Canton hav- 
ing shewn his experiments to Mr. Folkes, that gentle- 
man was of opinion, that a discovery of such general 
utility to mankind ought not to be withheld from the 
public on any private consideration"." Accordingly, 
Mr. Canton exhibited his experiments before the 
Society on the occasion of reading his Paper. They 
gave great satisfaction to the Fellows, who " Ordered 
their thanks to Mr. Canton for his very curious experi- 
ments, and for his free and very candid conmiuni- 

his life. Electricity engaged his principal attention, and he greatlj 
assisted in advancing this science by his discoveries. He was 
elected a Fellow of the Society on the 22nd March, 1749 — 50, and 
in 1751 was chosen a member of the Council. Dr. Thomson calls 
Canton *^ one of the most successful ezperimentezs in the golden 
age of electricity." 

« Published in the Phil. Traru., VoL xlvi. p. 678. He used a 
poker and tongs to communicate magnetism to steel bars. ^He 
derived his first hint from observing them one evening, as he was 
sitting by the fire, to be nearly in the same direction with respect 
to the earth as the dipping needle. He thence concluded that they 
must from that position, and the frequent blows they receive, have 
acquired some magnetic virtue, which on trial he found to be the 
case, and therefore he employed them to impregnate his bars, 
instead of having recourse to the natural loadstone." Lift, by 

M Bioff. Brit,, Vol. ni. p. 216. 

» MS. Journal-book, Tol. xxi. p. 499. 


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1750 — 55j] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 511 

For these experiments, and the Paper which 
accompanied them, the Copley Medal was awarded 
to Canton at the Anniversary in 1761. This award 
proves that the Council have not always considered 
priority of publication as an indispensable condition 
in bestowing this honorary distinction. It appears, 
from original unpublished documents now lying before 
us, that as early as 1747 Canton had turned his atten* 
tion with complete success to the production of 
powerful artificial magnets, principally in consequence 
of the expense of procuring those made by Dr. Knight, 
who, as has been stated, kept his process secref^. 
Though Canton on many occasions exhibited his re- 
sults, he nevertheless for several years abstained from 
communicating his method even to his most intimate 

^ Dr. Gowan Knight's method of making artificial magnets 
was first communicated to the world by Mr. Wilson, in a Paper 
published in the 69th Vol. of the Philosophical Tratuactioru. He 
provided himself with a large quantity of clean iron filings, which 
he put into a capacious tub about half full of clear water ; ho 
then agitated the tub to and fro for several hours, until the filings 
were reduced by attrition to an almost impalpable powder. This 
powder was then dried and formed into paste by admixture with 
linseed-oil. The paste was then moulded into convenient shapes, 
and exposed to a moderate heat until they attained a sufficient 
degree of hardness. "After allowing them to remain for some 
time in this state, he gave them their magnetic virtue in any direc- 
tion he pleased, by placing them between the extreme ends of his 
large magazine of artificial magnets for a second, or more, as he 
saw occasion. By this method, the virtue they acquired was such, 
that when any one of those pieces was held between two of his 
best ten-guinea bars, with its poles purposely inverted, it imrne* 
diately of itself turned about to recover its natural direction, which 
the force of those very powerful bars was not sufficient to coun- 
teract." We may mention, that Dr. Knight's powerful Battery of 
Magnets is in the possession of the Society, having been presented 
by Dr. Jolm Fothergill, in 1776. 


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512 HISTORY OF [1750 — 55. 

friends. In the beginning of 1750, the Rev. J. Michell 
published a Treatise on Artificial Magnets^ in which 
he described several new processes; and within 
twelve months afterwards, Canton, strongly urged 
thereto by his friends, communicated, as above stated, 
his methods to the Royal Society, some of which are 
very analogous to those of Mr. Michell. In conse- 
quence of this resemblance, Mr. Michell and his 
friends did not hesitate to assert that Canton had 
borrowed the most important of his processes from 
Michell's Treatise. This charge of plagiarism, though 
unpublished, gave Canton considerable uneasiness* 
and on his death*bed in 1772, he made his friend Dr. 
Priestley promise that he would not allow his memory 
to be unjustly reflected on in this afiair. In the 
Biographia Britannica, published in 1784, it is stated 
that Canton's Paper was read before the Society on 
the 17th January, 1750, and that it procured him on 
the 22nd March, 1750, the honour of being elected a 
Fellow. These dates, from an ambiguity in dating 
the year according to old style, appear from the 
Registers of the Society to be erroneous, for Canton 
was elected in March, 1749 — 50, nearly ten months 
prior to the communication of his experiments to the 
Society. Mr. Michell hereupon addressed a letter 
to the Editors of the Monthly Review (Nov. 1784), 
complaining of "misrepresentations tending to mis- 
lead the public," and stating that from the looseness 
of the dates, several persons had been erroneously 
led to apprehend that Canton's experiments were 
prior to the publication of his treatise, whereas the 
contrary was the case : he then adds, "Mr. Cantons 
experiments are so nearly the same with mine, that 
no one who will take the trouble of comparing them 


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1750 — 55,] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 513 

together, can well doubt from whence they were bor- 
rowed ;" and mentions some circumstances calculated 
to confirm his suspicions. This accusation naturally 
occasioned considerable uneasiness to the surviving 
members of Mr. Canton's family, and his son imme- 
diately occupied himself in procuring documentary 
evidence of his father's claims to originality. This 
evidence is conclusive as to the point that Canton 
possessed the means of making very powerful artificial 
magnets several years before the publication of Mr. 
MichelPs treatise. Dr. Priestley, who was a personal 
friend and neighbour of Mr. Michell's, endeavoured 
to prevail upon him to do justice to Canton's memory : 
the result will be best shown by the subjoined unpub- 
lished letter of the Doctor's to Mr. William Canton. 
" Dear Sib, " Birmingham, August 20, 1785. 

*' I HAVE been endeavouring to engage Mr. 
Michell to retract what he has advanced in the Monthly 
JReviete ; and he says, he has no objection to say, what 
he never meant to deny, that your father had a method 
of making artificial magnets before the publication of 
his treatise. What he insists upon is, that this was not 
the method which he afterwards published. This, I 
tell him, I think highly improbable ; that I knew Mr. 
Canton well, and believe him to be incapable of any 
such thing ; and besides, as his method, whatever it 
was, perfectly succeeded, he could have no interest to 
publish any other, and especially one that would subject 
him to the charge of plagiarism. We shall see what he 
says in the next Review, in which I shall expect a letter 
from him. In the mean time, it cannot be improper 
to do what you propose in the Gentleman's Magazine, 

" It is impossible, I fear, to produce any positive 
proof that your father's original method was the same 
VOL. I. L L 


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514 HISTORY OF [1750 ^55. 

that he published. Thb is one of the inconveniences 
attending secretSy of which your father sincerely re- 

" I am, dear Sir, 

•* Yours, &c. 
"Mr. William Canton:' "J. Pbjestlby. 

In consequence of Dr. Priestley's advice, supported 
by that of other friends, the matter did not go any 

It will be remembered that the alteration in our 
Calendar, or, as it was called, Change of Style, took 
place in 1752. The Earl of Chesterfield is said to 
have been the original promoter of the assimilation 
of the British Calendar to that of other countries. 
The Duke of Newcastle "was too deeply impressed 
with the favourite maxim of Sir Robert Walpole and 
his royal master, tranquilla nan Tnwoere^ to relish a 
proposal calculated to shock the civil and religious 
prejudices of the people;" but the question being 
strongly supported by Lord Chancellor Hardwicke 
and the Earl of Macclesfield, was eventually carried''. 

The authority for the alteration emanated from 
Parliament, but the Royal Society had considerable 
share in efiecting the change^. 

^ Coxe'a Memoir of Pelham*9 AdminUtration, Vol. n. p. 178. 

^ It had been long perceived that the day of the Equinox was 
slowly receding, and that the Moveable Feasts were gradually 
losing their connexion with it In the middle of the thirteenth 
oentnry, Roger Bacon pointed out to Olement IV. the change, its 
cause and remedy. From this time, reformers of the Calendar were 
never wanting, until, in 1582, in the Popedom of Gregory XIII., 
the change was actually made. The accumulated errors of the old 
cycle were corrected by the omission of eleven nominal days, the day 
following the fourth of October being called, not the fifth, but the 


zed by Google 

1750 — 55.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 515 

Lord Macclesfield, in his speech in the House of 
Peers, on the second reading of the Bill, " for regu- 
lating the commencement of the year," stated that 
"the Bill was drawn, and most of the Tables pre- 
pared, by Mr. Daval, a barrister of the Middle Tem- 
ple % whose skill in astronomy, as well as in his 
profession, rendered him extremely capable of accu- 
rately performing that work; which was likewise 
carefully examined and approved of by two gentle- 
men, whose learning and abilities are so well known, 
that nothing which I can say can add to their cha- 
racters ; I mean Mr. FdkeSy President of the Royal 
Society y and Dr. Bradley ^ his Majesty's Astronomer 
at Greenwich. Upon this authority do the new Tables 
and Rules stand ; and as to the Bill itself, no endea- 
vours have been wanting to make it as complete and 
as free from objections of all kinds as possible^." 

fifteenth. At the same time, a new Lanar cycle was introduced, 
in which, with considerable skill, the defects of the old one were 
ayoided. A beautifnl and emblematic Papal medal was struck on 
this occasion, designed by Parmegiana For an account of the avowed 
departures from astronomical accuracy, made on theological grounds, 
which exist in this cycle, the reader is referred to the article in the 
Companion to the Almcmac for 1845. 

^ He was at the time Secretary to the Society, to which office 
he had been elected on the 30th Not. 1747* There are several 
Astronomical Papers by him in the Tran9€u;tum9. A note in the 
Gentleman' » Magazine for 17^1, mentions: '^ Peter Daval, Esq. of 
the Middle Temple, Secretary to the Royal Society, who drew the 
Bill (and prepared most of the tables), under direction of the Earl 
of Chesterfield, the first former of the design. And the whole was 
carefully examined and approved by M. Folkes, Esq., President 
of the Royal Society, and Dr. Bradley, his Majesty's Astronomer 
at Greenwich, who composed the three tables at the end of this 

^ This speech was published in Vjblm 



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516 HISTORY 'of [1750 55. 

In a Paper by Lord Macclesfield, " On the expedi- 
ency of altering the Calendar," published in the 46th 
volume of the Transactions, particular allusion is 
made to Mr. Daval's labours in compiling the necessary 
Tables, which, it appears, had considerable influence 
in leading to the desired change. 

Professor De Morgan, in a very lucid and interest- 
ing Paper in the Companion to the Almanxicfor 1846, 
entitled, " On the earliest printed Almanacs," says, " It 
was casually brought to our notice that Charles Wal- 
mesley'*, who was well known as a mathematician, 
and had just been brought into the Royal Society**^, 
was said to have been one of those who were con- 
sulted by the framers of the bill. Combining the 
characters of a priest and an astronomer, he had 
probably made himself acquainted with the details of 

^ '^ Father Charles Walmesley was an English Benedictine 
Monk and Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome. He was also senior 
Bishop and Yicar Apostolic of the Western District, as well as 
Doctor of Theology in the Sorbonne. He died at Bath in 1797> 
in the 76th year of his age, and the 4lst of his episcopacy. He 
was the last survivor of those eminent mathematicians who were 
concerned in regulating the chronological style in England, which 
produced the change of style in this country in 1752. He is the 
author of five Papers on astronomical subjects in the Philowpkieal 
Transactions, besides which he pubUshed several separate works 
both on mathematics and theology. By the fire at Bath, at the 
time of the riots, several valuable manuscripts which he had been 
compiling during a well-spent life of labour, and travelling through 
many countries before his return to England, were irretrievably lost.** 
Abridff. PhU. Trans., Vol. n. p. 17. 

^ He was elected Nov. 1, 1750. His certificate describes him 
as " a gentleman of very distinguished merit and learning," and 
is signed by the Duke of Richmood, Mr. Folkes, Dr. Mortimer, 
and Mr. Askew. He was also strongly recommended Jby Buffon, 
d'Alembert, Le Monnier, and de Jussieu. 


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1750 — 55. 1 THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 517 

the reformed calendar. In the short obituary which 
is given in the GenilemavLS Magaziney he is men- 
tioned as the last survivor of the mathematicians 
who were consulted on the change of style. But not 
a trace of mention of his name can we find at the time, 
for which it is not difficult to conjecture the reason." 

By this Professor De Morgan means, that the 
religion of Father Walmesley would have made the 
change of style (if known to have been in any way 
brought about by him) much more disliked by some 
parties than it was. 

" There is much reason to suppose," says the Pro- 
fessor in another Paper, * On the Ecclesiastical Calen- 
dar,' "that this violent change placed as great a 
difficulty in the way of Protestant governments acced- 
ing to the new Calendar, as religious feeling. When 
in England, in the eighteenth century, it was at last 
introduced, the mob pursued the minister in his car- 
riage, clamouring for the days by which, as they sup- 
posed, their lives had been shortened : and the illness 
and death of the astronomer Bradley, who had assisted 
the government with his advice, were attributed to 
a judgment from heaven*^" 

The change occurred in England on the 2nd Sep- 
tember, 1752, "eleven nominal days being then struck 
out, so that the last day of old style being the 2nd, 
the first of new style (the next day) was called the 
14th instead of the 3rd. The same legislative enact- 
ment which established the Gregorian year in Eng- 
land in 1752, shortened the preceding year 1751 by a 
full quarter. Previously, the ecclesiastical and legal 
year was held to begin with the 25th March, and the 

*^ Companion to the Almanac^ 1845. 


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518 HISTORY OF [1750 55. 

year a.d. 1751 did so accordingly ; that year, however, 
was not suffered to run out, but was supplanted on the 
1st January by the year 1752, which it was enacted 
should commence on that day, as well as every sub- 
sequent year"." 

The expediency of changing the style had fre- 
quently been agitated by distinguished Members of 
the Society prior to this period, and Canton is stated, 
by Dr. Kippis, to have furnished Lord Macclesfield 
with several memorial canons for finding leap year, 
the dominical letter, &c. 

In 1752 an important ameloriation was made with 
respect to the publication of the Transactions. It 
originated firom Lord Macclesfield, who was probably 
sensible that the Philosophical Transactions had not 
for some time been equal to those formerly published, 
and he was consequently led to consider whether any 
steps could be taken to improve their character. 

On the 15th February, 1752, he brought forward 
the following propositions, of which he had given the 
usual notice ; and after they had been seriously con- 
sidered at two Meetings of Council, they were laid 
before the Fellows at an ordinary Meeting, held on 
the 27th February, for their approbation **. 

" That it is the opinion of the Council, that it would 
tend to the credit and honour of the Society, if, for the 
future, they should so far take under their care and 
inspection the publication of such papers as shaH have 
been read before, or communicated to them at their 
weekly Meetings, as to appoint a Committee who should 

*^ Herschel's Astronomy^ p. 413. 

*^ Lord Macclesfield brought his motion forward at an ordinary 
Meeting, in the first instance. 


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1750 — 55.'] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 619 

from time to time, as occasion should require, assemble 
together and select from the said papers (which should 
be referred to the said Committee for that purpose) 
such of them as they should think proper to be printed, 
and to order that no other papers should be published 
in the Philosophical TVanscLctions than such as shall have 
been so selected by the said Committee. 

" That it is the opinion of the Council that the 
President, Vice-President, and Secretaries, should be 
constantly Members of the said Committee ; the several 
Meetings whereof should be appointed by the President, 
or, in case of his sickness or absence, by one of the 
Vice-Presidents; and that due and a sufficient notice 
of such Meeting should be sent previously thereto to 
every Member of the said Committee." 

It was also proposed that not less than five Mem- 
bers of the Committee should be a quorum. 

These resolutions, with others explanatory of the 
manner in which the Council proposed to carry out 
the new measures, met with the approbation of the 
Fellows, and passed into laws. 

The next volume of the Transactions*^ which ap- 
peared in 1763, was in consequence published under 
the superintendence of a Committee of the Council, 
by whose orders the following Advertisement was 

^ This Tolame contains papers communicated to the Society 
from 1750 (when the previous Yolume was published under the 
superintendence of Dr. Cromwell Mortimer) to 1753. 

^ The names of the Members of Council existing when this 
important change was made, were: Martin Folkes, President; 
James West, Treasurer; the Rev. Thomas Birch and Peter Daval, 
Secretaries; Francis Blake; John Canton; John Ellicott; Dr. 
William Heberden ; Gowan Knight ; Earl of Macclesfield ; John 
"Ward; William Watson; Lord Willoughby, of Parham; Lord 



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520 HISTOBY OF [1750 — 55. 

"The Committee, appointed by the Royal Society 
to direct the publication of the Philoaophieal Tranacu:- 
tionsy take this opportunity to acquaint the public, that 
it fully appears, as weU from the Council-books and 
journals of the Society, as from the repeated declara- 
tions which have been made in several former Transtu:-' 
turns, that the printing of them was always, from time to 
time, the single act of the respective Secretaries till this 
present 47th volume. And this information was thought 
the more necessary, not only as it has been the common 
opinion that they were published by the authority, and 
under the direction, of the Society itself, but also be- 
cause several authors, both at home and abroad, have 
in their writings called them the Tranaouitiona of the 
Royal Society. Whereas, in truth, the Society, as a body, 
never did interest themselves any further in their pub- 
lication, than by occasionally recommending the revi- 
val of them to some of their Secretaries, when, from the 
particular circumstances of their affairs, the Transactiona 
had happened for any length of time to be intermitted. 
And this seems principally to have been done with a 
view to satisfy the public that their usual Meetings were 
then continued for the improvement of knowledge and 
benefit of mankind — the great ends of their first insti- 
tution by the Royal Charters, and which they have ever 

Charles Cavendish; Nicholas Mann; Richard Mead; Dr. Crom- 
well Mortimer; Sir Hans Sloane, Bart.; Charles Stanhope; Daniel 
"Wray, Esq., and James Burrow. In a notice upon the Society, 
in the Gentleman s Mayazine for 1752, it is stated, that "the 
Council resolved upon taking the publication of the Transactions 
into their hands for their honour and reputation, which has been 
much injured by an enemy to that illustrious body, of which he 
attempted, but in vain^ to be a member ; and when convinced of 
mistakes, refused to correct them." ^ 


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J 750 — 55.] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 521 

since pursued. But the Society being of late years 
greatly enlarged, and their communications more nu- 
merous, it was thought advisable that a Committee of 
their Members should be appointed to reconsider the 
papers read before them, and select out of them such 
as they should judge most proper for publication in 
the future Tran8<iction8 ; which was accordingly done 
upon the 26th of March, 1752**. And the grounds 
of their choice are, and will continue to be, the impor- 
tance or singularity of their subjects, or, the advan- 
tageous manner of treating them; without pretending to 
answer for the certainty of the facts, or propriety of the 
reasonings contained in the several papers so published, 
which must still rest on the credit or judgment of their 
several authors. It is likewise necessary on this occa- 
sion to remark, that it is an established rule of the 
Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give 
their opinion, as a body, upon any subject, either of 
nature or art, that comes before them. And therefore 
the thanks, which are frequently proposed from the 
chair to be given to the authors of such papers as are 
read at their accustomed Meetings, or to the persons 
through whose hands they receive them, are to be con- 
sidered in no other light than as a matter of civility^ in 
return for the respect shewn to the Society by those 
communications. The like also is to be said with 

^ It is a highly creditable feature in the history of the Society, 
that the Trantactioni have been most punctually published every 
year, and that in no case have papers, read before the Society and 
ordered for publication, been delayed more than a year (generally 
only a few months) between their being read and appearance in 
the Tranfoctions. In this respect the Society is far in advance of 
the French Institute, where papers frequently remain unpublished 
for two, three, and even four years. 


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522 HISTORY OP [1750 — 53. 

regard to the several projects, inyentions, and cnriositiefl 
of various kinds, which are often exhibited to tiie So^ 
ciety ; the authors whereof, or those who exhibit them, 
frequently take the liberty to report, and even to certify 
in the public newspapers, that they have met with the 
highest applause and approbation. And therefore it 
is hoped that no regard will hereafter be paid to such 
reports and public notices ; which, in som6 instances, 
have been too lightly credited, to the dishonour of the 

It appears from the Council-book, that orders 
were given to print 750 copies of the Transactions, 
for the benefit of the Fellows, and that all copies 
exceeding the numbers of Fellows were sold to the 
Society's bookseller at 25 per cent, under the selling 
price to the public. To meet the increased expendi- 
ture incurred by printing the Transactions^ this sta- 
tute was passed : — 

*' Whereas the great charge of printing so large a 
number of copies as may happen to be demanded by 
the present and future Fellows, must be defrayed out 
of the Stock or Fund of the Society, and it is but rea- 
sonable that all persons who for the future shall be 
propounded to be, and shall be, admitted Fellows of 
the Society, and, consequently, will become entitled to 
receive gratis a copy of the Transactions printed after 
their respective admissions, should contribute in some 
measure towards defraying the said extraordinary ex- 
pense; it is hereby ordered and enacted, that no 
person whatsoever, who shall be propounded after the 
eighth day of April next to be a Fellow of the So- 
ciety, shall be admitted as a Fellow thereof, imtil he 
shall have paid into the hands of the Treasurer of the 


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1750 — 55.] THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 523 

Society, or his Deputy, the sum of 3/. 3s„ over and 
above the sum of 21. 2s. which have hitherto been paid 
as an admission fee by every Fellow of the Society, pre* 
viously to his admission as a Fellow thereof*'." 

The Council-minutes subsequently show that the 
Society had no reason to regret the course they had 
taken regarding the Transactions in a pecuniary point 
of view; for, in 1754, it is stated, that "an account 
was read of the gain or loss to the Society by print- 
ing the Transactions, by which it appears that they 
are gainers by the new established method of print- 
ing them*®.*' 

We may mention here, that about this period 
several volumes of the Philosophical Transactions 
were translated into the Italian language, and pub- 
lished at Naples. The fourth volume of this transla- 
tion is dedicated to the Conte di Arconate^, and it 
would appear, that the former volumes were favourably 
received by the savans in Italy, for we are told that, 
" Quella parte deUe varie Materie Filosojiche, trattate 
neUa cdebre Societd di Londra, le quali, tra^sportate 
daUa Lingua Inglese nella nostra Italiana farono 
pvthhlicate col nome di Transazioni, ^ stata universal- 

*^ Council-minutes, Vol. iv. p. 82. 

*■ It may not be uninteresting to fi^ve the cost of printing the 
47th Yol. of the Transactions, the first published by the Society. 
It contains 571 pages, small 4to. £. «. d. 

Mr. Eichardson for Printing 76 11 

Mr. Mynde for Engraving 34 18 6 

Mr. Johnson for Paper 39 18 3 

151 7 9 
^ The dedication affirms that the Count's ancestors presented 
several of Leonardo da Vinci s original MS. works to the Amhrosian 


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524 HISTORY OF [1750 — ^55. 

mente ricetuta con piacere si grande per le moUe 
naturali osservazioni quasi a gara dagli ingegni piU 
felici dd secolo da ogni parte dell' Europa ivi radu- 
nate, cheio volendo dare a V.S. Illtistrissima un* 
attestato deUa mia divozione^ con presentarle alcuno 
de' Libri che vengono alia luce da queste Stampe, ho 
creduto niun' altra Opera piU di questa poterle venire 
gradita'' Scientific men may be interested to learn, 
that these volumes contain, under the form of an Ap- 
pendix, a great number of letters from English and 
other philosophers, giving an account of the state 
and progress of science. A French translation of the 
Transactions had been undertaken by M. de Bremond. 
Montucla says, alluding to the Transactions; ^^On ne 
sauroit trop regretter que cette prScieuse collection 
soil encore si rare parmi nous, soil en original, soil 
dans une langue plus commune aux savans que la 
langue angloise. Ces raisons avoient engagS, vers 
1744, M. de Breniond, de FAcadSmie Roy ale des 
Sciences, d en donner une traduction Franfoise, et 
il en publia les annSes 1744 — 7, avec un volume de 
tables indiqtmnt de diverses manures le contenu des 
volumes antSrieurs d 1744. On ne sauroit trop Umer 
la disposition de ces tables. La mort de M. de Bre- 
mond ayant interrompu ce travail, M. Demours, de 
la m.6me AcadSmie, s'est proposS long-temps de le 
continue, mais ses occupations, et peut^tre la di/- 
JicvMe defaire imprimer un si volumineux recueil, 
sont cause qus ce projet rCa point eu d'exieation, et 
grace d la toumure actueUe de l esprit f ran fois, il n"y 
a pas d^apparence qu'il en ait jamais^'' 

At the Anniversary in 1753, Martin Folkes resigned 

^ HiMtoxre des Malhematiques, Tom. ii. p. 556. 


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1750 — 55.'\ THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 625 

the Presidency**; he was succeeded by the Earl of 
Macclesfield, whd, as we have seen, evinced from the 
time of his election into the Council a warm interest 
in the Society. It is but just to Mr. Folkes to 
state, that he left the Society in a much more flourish- 
ing condition than when he was elected President; 
for, at the time of his resignation, their funded 
capital amounted to 8,000/. A careful examination of 
the voluminous Minutes of the ordinary Meetings, 
extending over the eleven years that he was in office, 
enables me to state, that he was scarcely ever absent 
firom the chair, and that the Meetings were honoured 
\)y a greater number of visitors than usual, num- 
bering frequently as many as thirty or forty. In- 
deed, so much inconvenience was occasionally expe- 
rienced by the crowds desiring to be admitted, that 
the President was obliged to request the Fellows to 
exercise a little discretion in bringing visitors, and to 
enforce the standing order, precluding their admission, 
until leave had been obtained from the Society in the 
usual manner. 

" At the Anniversaiy Meeting Lord Cavendish stated, '' That 
having attended the President, he had declared to him, that the 
weak condition to which his present indisposition had reduced him, 
having rendered him incapable of attending to the business of the 
Society, he was therefore desirous of declining the office of Pre- 

The Society *^ Resolved, That their thanks be returned to Martin 
Folkes, Esq., their worthy President, for the many and great ser- 
vices which they have received from him, both as Member and as 
President, of which they shall retain the highest sense. And that 
he be assured of the just concern which they feel that his ill state 
of health will not permit him any longer to discharge the office of 
President, which he has so many years filled with so much credit 
to himself, and advantage to the Society." Journal-book, Vol. xxn. 
p. 195. 


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526 HISTOBY OP [1750 — 55. 

It was during the Presidency of Martin Folkes, 
that Stukeley thus alludes to the Meetings of the So- 
ciety : ^ They are a most elegant and agreeable enter- 
tainment for a contemplative person ; — ^here we meet, 
either personally or in their works, all the genius's of 
England, or rather of the whole world, whatever 
the globe produces that is curious, or whatever the 
heavens present. My custom is, when I return home 
and take a contemplative pipe, to set down the 
memoirs of what entertainments we have had there**." 
He frequently alludes to the ** splendid company** at 
the Meetings. 

Stukeley's account of a Greological Soir^ which 
he gave at this period to several Fellows of the So- 
ciety, is so curious as to merit insertion here. It is 
contained in his Manuscript Journal : 

** 28 Aug. 1751. — Celebrated the dedication of my 
library*^ ; present, the President, Mr. Folkes, Mr. Fleet- 
wood, Dr. Parsons, Mr. Pard, M. De la Costa, Mr. 
Baker, Mr. Sherwood, &c. &c. At the little window, 
which I called the sideboard, we began the entertain- 
ment with three sorts of plumb-pudding stone, with 
other natural and antique curiosities. The great win- 
dow was spread over entirely with fossils of all kinds, 
which were extremely admired. The great lump of 
Coralliam TubaUxtum^ found in the river Bibble; ano- 
ther lesser lump, white ; another, filled fiill with juice of 
black flint, which I picked up from the pavement of 
pebbles before my neighbour Curtis's door at Stamford. 
Two black flints I pick'd up the other day in a bank in 
our fields: one has a white shell in it, the other a 

'• MS. Journal. 

" His house was in Great Onnond Street. 


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1750 — 55j] THE BOYAL SOCIETY. 627 

piece of bone. I shew'd the bone I took out of the 
stratum of brick-earth in digging at Bloomsbury ; many 
periwinkles, and all kinds of shells, fluors, petrifactions, 
incrustations, &c. &c. 

"I also show'd many sorts of camu ammanis ; a 
model of Stonehenge, some of the stone, the common 
sort polish'd ; a Roman cup and saucer, entire, of fine 
red earth, dug up at Trumpington; Bishop Cumber- 
land's clock, with the first long pendulum. After this 
dry entertainment we broach'd a barrel of fossils from 
the isle of Portland. 

" Lastly, to render it a complete rout, I produced a 
pack of cards made in Richard II.'s time ; and shew'd 
the British bridle dug up in Silbury Hill, probably the 
greatest antiquity now in the world." 

It is to be feared that Stukeley's love for Geology 
did little to advance the science : for it appears that 
shortly after the above period he communicated some 
Geological Papers to the Society, containing so many 
absurd hypotheses, that even at that period, when 
geology was so little understood, the Council deter- 
mined they should not be printed. He also made 
several communications, in which he asserted, in the 
^most positive manner, that corals were vegetables. 
These papers were likewise rejected, which made the 
sturdy antiquary very angry. He gives vent to his 
feelings in forcible language ; and concludes : " Who- 
ever has eyes must see that they are vegetables." 



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